A court in Delhi on Monday framed charges against a man and his son for allegedly vandalising and setting a mosque on fire during the February 2020 violence that broke out in the Capital, reported PTI.
The accused, Mithhan Singh and his son Jony Kumar, have been charged with arson and rioting as part of a violent mob that damaged a mosque in Delhi’s Khajuri Khas neighbourhood on February 25, 2020.
Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat, in an order on November 20, framed the charges against the two accused, who pleaded not guilty in the case.
The court also rejected the accused persons’ arguments that they should be discharged because of a delay in reporting of the incident and recording of statements of the witnesses. Bhat said that an accused cannot claim to be let off merely because of these reasons.
The court noted that an atmosphere of terror and trauma prevailed in the locality for many days after the riots. In view of this, the court said that the delay of about one week in reporting of the incident was justified and cannot be considered as an impediment to the prosecution’s case at this stage.
The complainant, identified as Israfil, alleged that the father and son were part of the mob that shouted “Jai Shri Ram” slogans near his home and set it on fire on February 25, 2020.
Israfil said that he was forced to take shelter in the local Fatima Masjid to save himself. He alleged that the mob had damaged the mosque as well and set it ablaze. During the violence, Mithhan Singh had also asked to throw a small cylinder into the mosque, Israfil said.
The father and son also threw bottles filled with inflammable material at homes of those belonging to a particular community, the complainant alleged.
The Special Public Prosecutor told the court that witnesses Mohd Tayyub, Mehboob Alam, Shadab, and Mohd Akram had also seen the two accused among the mob that damaged the Fatima Masjid and set their homes on fire.
The counsel also told the court that the witnesses and the accused knew each other as they lived in the same locality.
The court held that the accused can be charged under sections 147 (rioting), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon) and 149 (member of unlawful assembly guilty of the offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the Indian Penal Code.
The father and son have also been charged with other sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 392 (robbery), 451 (house trespassing) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees).
Clashes had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and February 26, 2020, in North East Delhi. At least 53 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the violence.
Several courts, including the Delhi High Court, are hearing cases related to the violence.
A court in Delhi had on November 12 framed charges against four persons for allegedly murdering a man during the February 2020 violence in the Capital. The judge had said that there was a calculated attack on the victim.
In August, a Delhi court had framed murder and rioting charges against seven men accused of having killed a Muslim man during the violence in the Dayalpur area. The court also framed charges relating to unlawful assembly and criminal conspiracy.