A court in Delhi on Wednesday castigated the Delhi Police for its investigation into the violence that rocked parts of North East Delhi in February, The Quint reported. This came amid allegations from student activists that the police have been targeting them for mobilising peaceful anti-government protests since December 2019.

“Perusal of the case diary reveals a disturbing fact,” Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana said. “The investigation seems to be targeted only towards one end. Upon enquiry from Inspector Lokesh and Anil, they have failed to point out what investigation has been carried out so far regarding the involvement of the rival faction.”

The court urged the concerned authorities to “monitor” the inquiry to “ensure a fair investigation”, according to the website.

The judge made the observations while sending Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, to judicial custody for 30 days. Tanha was arrested last week for the violence at Jamia on December 15 during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

The police told the court that his custody was required in the North East Delhi violence case to unearth the “entire conspiracy” and to confront him with the electronic data collected during investigation, according to PTI.

Advocate Sowjhanya Shankaran, representing Tanha, argued that he was falsely implicated in the case and had no role in the alleged criminal conspiracy. The police had claimed that he was a close associate of Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar, who had been key organisers of the protests against the amended citizenship law. All of them have been blamed for the subsequent violence.

Shankaran told The Quint that Wednesday’s observations made by the court were significant. “This is an extremely important observation as far as the entire probe into the Delhi riots is concerned,” she added.

Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and 26 in North East Delhi, killing 53 people and injuring hundreds. The police were accused of either inaction or complicity in some instances of violence, mostly in Muslim neighbourhoods. The violence was the worst Delhi saw since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

The police made more than 800 arrests by April 13 in connection with the North East Delhi violence, according to The Indian Express. An unidentified official was quoted as saying that the Union home ministry “insisted that police must continue making arrests under any circumstances”.

Scroll.in examined a few cases closely to find a troubling pattern: often victims of the violence were being prosecuted by the police. Many lawyers and activists say the lockdown to contain the coronavirus spread has reduced scrutiny of the police investigation and impaired access to justice for those arrested.

A large group of feminist activists, including organisations and individuals across the world, issued a statement on Monday against the Delhi Police’s crackdown on students. They had also referred to the recent arrest of two members of Pinjra Tod, a women’s rights collective. Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita were initially arrested May 23 in connection with a first information report registered on February 24 over the sit-in protest at Jaffrabad metro station against the amended citizenship law. Minutes after they were granted bail on May 24, the police re-arrested them in another case of rioting and murder.

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  2. In Delhi violence investigation, a disturbing pattern: Victims end up being prosecuted by police