September 20, 2020
Delhi: Subverting the Criminal Justice System

THE way in which the Delhi Police has gone about the investigation into the communal violence in North East Delhi constitutes a brazen exercise in perverting the course of justice.

From March onwards, the two special investigation teams entrusted to investigate the widespread violence which led to the deaths of 55 people, have worked in a biased manner with a pre-conceived narrative.

The onus for the violence is being put on the anti-CAA protesters and those who played an active role in the peaceful protests which developed spontaneously in many places starting with Shaheen Bagh. The FIRs lodged and the charge-sheets filed so far – all have a common threat – the anti-CAA protests were planned to rouse feelings amongst the Muslims, malign the government and utilise the occasion of the Trump visit to effect roadblocks, cause disruption, resulting in the violence.

In pursuit of this narrative, facts have been distorted and speeches selectively cited. In a supplementary chargesheet filed in a murder case, in a so-called disclosure statement, the names of Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, Jayati Ghosh, economist, Yogendra Yadav, president of Swaraj India, Prof. Apoorvanand and Rahul Roy, film maker, are mentioned in connection with speeches they made or meetings they attended. According to the statement, the speeches made by Sitaram Yechury and others were meant “to provoke and mobilise” the people.

In other FIRs and chargesheets too, names of political and social activists are named alleging they played a role in the instigation of the crowd or assisting the accused persons. These show how the police have pressurised the accused and witnesses to fabricate evidence.

These are deliberate efforts to paint the anti-CAA protests as anti-national activities or campaign them as creating communal discord. The intent is to punish those who have opposed the unconstitutional and unjust law.

The arrest and detention so far of 20 persons under the UAPA, many of whom are scholars and young students from Jamia Millia Islamia university and JNU, is a political statement that dissent will not be tolerated and will be crushed.

Though both Hindus and Muslims were affected by the violence, the reality is that the brunt was borne by the Muslims. Yet, the pattern of arrests show that a large number of young Muslims have been arrested and cases filed against them, when there is no worthwhile evidence to show that they have committed any crime. This fits into the Delhi Police narrative that the Muslims got incited by the anti-CAA protests and attacked Hindus; there was retaliation by some Hindus to these attacks.

The real culprits who fomented the violence are untouched so far. The police have refused to file an FIR against BJP leader Kapil Mishra whose speech, in the presence of a DCP, threatened physical action against the protesters. Other BJP leaders made hate speeches, but none are charged. Doing so would negate the police thesis that violence was initiated by the anti-CAA protesters.

Under the aegis of the home ministry, the Delhi police is set upon subverting the criminal justice system itself. They need to be stopped. The judiciary must step in to prevent the witch-hunt of activists. There has to be an independent probe into the violence in North East Delhi. Without that, the cause of justice cannot be served.
(September 16, 2020)