School principal granted bail in Delhi riots case
A Delhi court on Saturday granted bail to Faisal Farooq, the principal of Rajdhani Public School, who was earlier charged with hatching a conspiracy to precipitate and aggravate riots in and around his school. The court observed that the CCTV camera footage did not show his presence at the place where the riots had broken out.
Duty Judge Vinod Yadav said that one witness, Roop Singh, stated on March 8 that he had seen Farooq at the spot of the incident. Singh had also claimed to have heard him asking the guard of the school to permit Muslim persons inside the school.
However, later in his statement recorded before the magistrate on March 11, he did not say a word about having seen the accused man at the scene or having heard him say anything to the guard of the school.
The court, while granting bail, said that to “cover up” the deficiency in the statement of the witness, the Investigating Officer (IO) recorded a supplementary statement by Singh, claiming that he had got scared before the magistrate which is why he could not state the correct facts. The IO had moved an application before the court to get this additional fact added to his statement. However, it was dismissed by the judge, the court noted in its order.
“It is clearly apparent that there are contradictions in the various statements of this witness about the applicant,” the court said. It also noted that Farooq kept on calling the police to report about damage to his school (Rajdhani Public School) from February 24, but the FIR in his case was not recorded then. It was ultimately recorded on March 5.
“I have gone through the statements of PWs Roop Singh, Geeta, Manoj and Ashok Kumar and have also gone through the recorded statement of Prosecution Witness (PW) Roop Singh. Admittedly, the applicant is not seen in any of the CCTV camera footage.”
The court also said that Geeta another witness, incidentally the wife of Roop Singh, also did not say a word about having seen the accused man at the spot on the date of the incident. It said that another witness Manoj, who was the guard at the Rajdhani school, has merely stated that Farooq had come to the school’s main gate and spoken to some persons outside the school.
“From the aforesaid statements, it is prima facie not established that the applicant was present at the spot at the time of the incident. It is an admitted position that several CCTV cameras were lying installed at Rajdhani Public School at various places, the footages whereof have been thoroughly scrutinised by the Investigating Agency but the presence of the applicant therein is not there. If the applicant (Farooq) was not present at the scene of occurrence, then his involvement in the offences cannot be made out,” the judge stated in his order.
The court also noted that “except a bald allegation,” there is no material to substantiate that Farooq had spoken to several people involved with the communal riots.
“When the IO was confronted he stated that further investigation on the aspect of terror funding is underway...,” the court said.
The court, while stating that the accused man had made a good case for bail, also noted, “It is made clear that nothing in this order shall be construed an expression on the merits of evidence to be adduced in the matter.”
The police also chargesheeted 18 people in connection to the riots that broke out at the Rajdhani Public School, while naming its principal Faisal Farooq for hatching a conspiracy to precipitate and aggravate riots in and around Rajdhani School. According to the police, it was on his directions that the adjacent and rival convent school, two parking lots run by the other party and the building of one Anil Sweets was systematically destroyed by the mob.
The police said in the charge sheet that the call detail analysis of Farooq’s phone suggested that he had links with prominent members of the Popular Front of India, Pinjra Tod group, Jamia Coordination Committee, Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz and some fundamental Muslim clerics, including those from Deoband, indicating the depth of the conspiracy.
The charge sheet stated that the rioters had camped inside and fired bullets from the terrace of Rajdhani School. They also threw petrol bombs, acid, bricks, stones and other missiles using an improvised large iron catapult, specially installed for the purpose, from the terrace of Rajdhani School. Police had also said that on the day of the riots, many children from Muslim families had left the school early during the half-time recess.
HT contacted the police’s crime branch chief, Praveer Ranjan and police spokesperson Mandeep Randhawa, but despite many calls and text message, there was no response.