A court in Delhi on Friday said that the police had failed to produce video evidence against those accused of conspiracy in the large-scale violence that took place in the Capital in February.
The court said that the Delhi Police had earlier claimed that they were collecting CCTV footage from metro stations in North East Delhi’s Jaffrabad, Maujpur and also pictures and videos taken by photographers at the sites of protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. “Regretfully, Assistant Commissioner of Police Hriday Bhushan and Inspector Anil Kumar have failed to point out the seizure of relevant video footage from video cameras installed at the metro stations over even videos shot by the photographer,” the court said, according to a copy of the hearing in possession of Scroll.in. “They have also failed to point out as to if any notice/request was served upon the concerned official of the metro seeking preservation of the relevant video footage, so as to save an important piece of evidence.”
“This is not the task of the court to tell the police as to how and what evidence is required to be collected, however, this court is duly bound to ensure a fair investigation,” the court added. “The police seems to be in a state of inscrutable insolence in collection of relevant video footage. The indolence is a cause of concern.”
In multiple chargesheets filed last month, the police had claimed the violence in Delhi was a result of a conspiracy to defame the Narendra Modi-led government. They alleged that people who had organised protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act were the conspirators – student leaders and activist. The police have not yet produced substantial video evidence against them .
Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the new citizenship law 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.
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.