No ‘actionable evidence’ against politicians in Delhi riots: Police
Delhi Police on Tuesday told the Delhi high court that no “actionable evidence” has been found against several political leaders -- including the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma, and the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Amanatullah Khan -- against whom public interest litigations were filed for allegedly making hate speeches and instigating people during the anti-CAA protests.
In an affidavit filed before a bench of chief justice DN Patel and justice Prateek Jalan, the police said that “the prima facie investigation has revealed that this is not the case of any sporadic or spontaneous violence but appears to be a part of a well-thought-out conspiracy to destabilise harmony in society”, and that the petitions should be dismissed.
It stated that investigation in the case is still on, and if anything incriminating is found, FIRs will be registered.
The reply comes in a bunch of pleas that sought registration of FIRs against several political leaders for allegedly making speeches during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act agitation that, the petition said, eventually led to communal riots in north-east Delhi in February.
On February 26, the Human Rights Law Network filed a plea on behalf of activist Harsh Mander seeking FIRs against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders such as Kapil Mishra and Anurag Thakur to be booked for making that speeches that purportedly triggered communal violence in northeast Delhi. The following day, an organisation named Lawyers Voice filed an intervention in the plea, making similar allegations against Congress's Sonia and Rahul Gandhi as well as leaders of AAP.
“It is submitted that during the investigations conducted so far in all the aforesaid matters related to north-east Delhi riots, no actionable evidence has yet surfaced indicating any role being played by the persons named in the writ petitions in instigating and/or participating in the riots,” the police affidavit said.
It added that the “investigation conducted so far is pointing towards a wider and a larger conspiracy and concerted attempts of creating disruption of law and order situation in the city through violent means by disrupting communal harmony in the state and to perpetrate chaos in the society”.
On Monday, the court gave two days to the Delhi Police to file their replies to the pleas seeking various directions to speed up action in the case of violence at Jamia Milia Islamia that had broken out during the anti-CAA protests after some of the petitioners said they had not received the copy of the reply.
Reacting to the affidavit, BJP leader Kapil Mishra said: “Today it is clear that the entire propaganda campaign against me was fake. People who organised riots in Delhi are filling fake complaints against me and some ‘urban Naxals’ tried to promote that. The fake campaign against me stands exposed. I am sure not only rioters but also their support groups in media and politics will be punished by the law.”
BJP leader Abhay Verma added that he was confident that nothing would be found against him.
“I was sure that whenever the investigation would be conducted; no evidence would be found against me. I am a public representative and had gone to the riots hit area because the residents and shopkeepers of the area were angry after the murder of IB official Ankit Sharma. I had not made any instigating speeches and it can be seen on the video. Rather, I had tried to stop some people when they raised slogans,” Verma said.
AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Amanatullah Khan did not respond to requests for a comment.
While representatives of the Congress did not immediately respond to the police affidavit, the party’s senior leadership has maintained that none of their speeches have incited communal violence.
The police said in its affidavit that exercising the fundamental right of dissent should be respected, but no person can be allowed to commit a breach of law, indulge in violence, arson and riotous activity causing danger “under the garb of exercise of the fundamental right of free speech and assembly”.
The matter will be now heard on July 21.