The Delhi Police on 17th Sept has filed a 17000 page charge sheet on the Delhi Riots before the Court, in which some 2000 plus pages carry the operative material. For the Riots which recorded 53, two third Muslims, killed; predominantly Muslim properties damaged and burnt; 15 people have been accused. Two ex-Corporators (one each ex member of AAP and Congress from areas of North east Delhi) and the rest student leaders and activists have been booked and jailed. These include leaders of Jamia Coordination Committee, Pinjra Todd, among others. A supplementary charge sheet will carry names of 6 others, including interestingly Umar Khalid, who has been named in FIR number 59/20 as the brain behind planning the violence! The 13 activists in the first charge sheet and also ex corporator Ishrat Jahaan are anti CAA activists. The charge sheet echoes the position of the Home Minister of India, who in March 2020 told Parliament that the riots were scripted and organized by the anti CAA protestors.
Not one leader from the RSS- BJP is named in the charge sheet though Delhi heard Kapil Mishra and other leaders spew venom and threaten violence publicly, there are photographs and videos galore showing youth shooting at peaceful gatherings in Jamia University and Shaheen Bagh.
The entire investigation by the Delhi police, which operates under the Central Govt., has been designed to show the peaceful anti CAA protests by women in Delhi and thereafter in other parts of the country, as a deep seated conspiracy which led to the riots. Protests against the legislation are to be linked in public perception as anti-national and an act of violence against the majority community, because it challenges the Hindu Rashtra script for India as opposed to the Constitution of India.
In this context must be seen the attempts to wrap in names of a whole gamut of political leaders and intellectuals to signal that dissent and questions against the Hindu Rashtra project will not be tolerated. A whatsapp group where some of those who supported the anti CAA protests discussed various issues has been used and even debates have been labelled as scripts of action, while so many whatsapp groups directly calling to gather for violence have been not even investigated. Who are the accused in the 53 murders; is there no ‘conspiracy’ behind the majority of the killings which are of Muslims? Can any riot proceed for three and a half days unless there is direct support if not participation by the state forces? Yet the Delhi police Commissioner asserts to an ex Police Commissioner that the investigation is ‘impartial’!
Even more significant is the manner in which the police is defending its own personnel. Women organizations in the city (as well as democratic rights organizations and prominent intellectuals) have been writing every month to the Home Minister demanding an impartial judicial public enquiry into the entire sequence of the riots and also information of who has been booked for the killing of Faizan, one of the 53 killed. A video showing a bleeding Faizan lying on the ground and being beaten by policemen while being taunted to sing the national anthem was in public domain in the very days of the violence. Yet to date it is not in public knowledge if any policemen have been booked for his killing.
Umar Khalid, ex student leader from JNU, has been named in FIR 59/20 as the head of a conspiracy for violence during Trump’s visit. Yet, as pointed out earlier, he has not even been named in the first charge sheet. He had earlier too been booked under UAPA following a protest held in JNU on the anniversary of the hanging of Afzal Guru. Included in the investigation are statements where the accused has clearly written her refusal to sign, and which name political leaders and intellectuals. It is another matter that after years and years of incarceration and court procedures, many accused will be totally absolved. But in India the procedure is itself the punishment and courts have not punished police officers for flawed and false investigations and accusations, even the motivated plans like the present police investigation in Northeast Delhi violence.
The anti CAA NRC NPR protests were widespread throughout the country and brought out thousands, especially Muslim women, in massive and continual protests. By alleging that the protest sites in Delhi were actually a conspiracy for building up riots in north east Delhi, the Central Govt. is on its old project of maligning that movement. The movement at most places had to be withdrawn in the face of the Central Govt.’s announcement of lockdown for the Corona pandemic and at others the protests were forcibly removed. This pandemic period has been used by the Govt. to brazenly attack the rights of the people and also of those leading people’s struggles. Along with, the RSS-BJP Govt. has gone on a spree to push through all those policies for sale of country, quashing of labour rights and attacking peasantry, which people’s struggles had pushed back through the years of new economic policies.
It is imperative that movement is built in Delhi by progressive and democratic organizations to demand that the current investigation of the Delhi police, which is actually a party in the riots, be kept in abeyance and a public judicial enquiry be conducted. All student activists must be immediately released and UAPA cases be withdrawn.
Meanwhile another such witch-hunt is being conducted in the Bhima Koregaon case where the violence on Dalits has fallen off the radar and a protest meeting a day earlier has been used to incarcerate known democratic intellectuals and social activists in jails. The challenge is urgent before the people of India to strengthen and deepen movements to defend democratic rights and against the fascist project of the RSS to sell the country to foreign and domestic corporate while pushing through a Hindu Rashtra project rejecting federalism, making Muslims second class citizens, deepening social injustice and pushing through agenda for Patriarchy.
September 17, 2020