Police framing anti-CAA protestors in Delhi riots cases, allege activists
A group of activists on Friday accused Delhi Police of falsely implicating people, who had participated in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) in parts of the national capital between December and February, in north-east Delhi riot cases.
In a virtual press conference on Friday, a panel consisting of Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, Swaraj Abhiyan founder Yogendra Yadav, activist Harsh Mander, former JNU student Umar Khalid, and president of the Delhi unit of the Left-affiliated All India Students Association (AISA), Kawalpreet Kaur, alleged the police had been trying to collect “false” affidavits (statements) against the protestors in riots cases.
Delhi police’s public relations officer, Eish Singhal, did not wish to comment on the investigation. HT tried to contact special commissioner of police Praveer Ranjan, who did not respond to text messages and calls.
Apoorvanand, who was summoned by police last month in connection with the riots, said, “Instead of investigating the violence as they should, Delhi Police are investigating who all had participated in the anti-CAA and NRC protests and trying to falsely implicate them. This current witch-hunting of anti-CAA protesters is not only an attack on a few individuals. Such a sinister profiling of the democratic mass movement basically criminalises our basic right to protest.”
Delhi Police in their charge sheets before the court had said the riots were planned at the anti-CAA protest sites by some student leaders, activists and local politicians.
The police had arrested several student activists, including Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Devangana Kalita and Meeran Haider among others, in connection with north-east riots cases. The activists have denied the changes against them and accused the police of launching a witch-hunt against them.
Mander, an activist and founder of Karwan-e-Mohabbat, said the conspiracy behind the north-east Delhi violence was to “punish and crush” the largest non-violent movement in Independent India.
Clashes between pro- and anti-CAA groups in north-east Delhi had blown into full-scale communal riots between Hindus and Muslims, which left 53 people dead and more than 400 injured in February this year.
“Delhi police has claimed that the protests were the conspiracy (behind the violence) and its non-violence nature was just a facade. In pursuit of this story every day for the last several few weeks, the special branch of Delhi Police, which normally investigates grave crimes such as terrorism, is busy summoning mostly young people, and sometimes seniors, grilling them and intimidating them. A large number of youngsters are languishing in prisons since the last few months without bail in the name of the so-called conspiracy,” Mander said.
Yadav said when an arrested persons were granted bail in one case, police booked them in another case under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act to keep them behind bars.
“Is this a ploy to keep protestors in jail for long periods, without the need to provide evidence or frame charges? Why is a draconian anti-terror law like UAPA being used to probe this case? It has also come to our notice that the police have been coercing people it has summoned for questioning to give false statements,” he said.
Khalid and Kaur, who were also summoned in connection with the riots, accused Delhi Police of speaking the language of BJP and RSS leaders. They alleged the police did not investigate the roles of BJP leaders, including Kapil Mishra, in the violence. “Since December last year, leaders and supporters of the BJP have been seen inciting people and making hate speeches. It would have been reasonable to expect any fair investigative agency to probe the impact such speeches had on the gradual breakdown of law and order in Delhi.”
Reacting to the allegations, Mishra said, “They want to divert attention from real issues, and that’s why they are targeting me. Now since the reality of the Delhi riots is coming out in public, and Tahir Hussain , Khalid Saifi and others are confessing in their statements, there is a clear desperation among the masterminds of Delhi riots.”