A Delhi court has acquitted 12 persons of charges of criminal conspiracy against them in a case related to the February 2020 violence in the national Capital, Live Law reported on Thursday

The court passed the order on March 15, and the order was made available on Thursday.

The Delhi Police had alleged that a WhatsApp group named “Kattar Hindu Ekta” had been formed during violence in the city to plan the killings of Muslims and the vandalism of their properties, The Hindu reported.

The court, however, held that the conversations on the WhatsApp group did not indicate that it had been formed to commit any illegal act.

Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat observed that an agreement among a group of people to commit an unlawful act cannot be inferred merely from messages posted on a WhatsApp group chat.

While the court acquitted the 12 persons from the allegations of conspiracy, it framed other charges against them, including those of murder.

“Careful analysis of these chats would reveal that the members were keeping themselves ready for any attack from other communities,” the judge said. The court added that at best, the chats showed that the members were preparing to defend themselves “against an onslaught to be launched against them”.

The court referred to a message by a member of the group named Lokesh Solanki on February 26, 2020, in which he reportedly boasted of having killed two persons and having thrown their bodies into a drain.

“...But he neither asks the other members also to do the same nor has any other member shown his willingness to indulge in such horrendous act,” Judge Bhat said.

Apart from Solanki, the other accused persons involved in the matter are Pankaj Sharma, Sumit Chaudhary, Ankit Chaudhary, Prince, Rishabh Chaudhary, Jatin Sharma, Vivek Panchal, Himanshu Thakur, Sahil, Sandeep and Tinku Arora, according to Live Law.

They have been named as accused persons in the murder of five Muslims named Aas Mohammad, Mursaleen, Mushraff, Hashim Ali and Amir Khan.

Apart from murder, the accused persons have been charged for unlawful assembly, rioting, rioting with a deadly weapon and murder.

February 2020 violence

Communal violence had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26, 2020.

The violence claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. The majority of those killed were Muslims.

Two people have convicted in cases pertaining to the violence till now. One man, Kaleem Ahmed, was convicted for harbouring an accused person in December. He was, however, sentenced to the period that he had already underwent in custody, after the court observed that he had shown remorse.

On January 20, a court found another accused person, Dinesh Yadav, guilty of rioting and robbery, and sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment.