The Delhi Police have named Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, economist Jayati Ghosh, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav and documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy, as people who had “encouraged” the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors as part of a plan, The Wire reported on Sunday. However, The Times of India reported that the Delhi Police denied that they have been named as accused.
The chargesheet also annexed two identical ‘disclosure statements’, in which the Delhi Police claimed that Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal admitted to not just their complicity in the violence, but also named Ghosh, Apoorvanand and Roy as their “mentors”, who asked them to carry on the protests even if it led to violence.
On the other hand, the police used Jamia Millia Islamia student Gulfisha Fatima’s statement to name Yechury and Yadav. The police alleged Yechury and Yadav took part in anti-CAA demonstrations to “provoke and mobilise” crowds. Narwal, Kalita and Fatima have also been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a case filed by the Special Cell of Delhi Police.
But the Delhi Police alleged that the disclosure statement “has been truthfully recorded as narrated by the accused”. “However, a person is not arraigned as an accused only on the basis of a disclosure statement,” the police added. “It is only on the existence of sufficient corroborative evidence that further legal action is taken. The matter is currently sub-judice.”
Yadav said in a tweet that it was true that the Delhi Police had not named them as accused but only in a disclosure statement. But he added: “As for Delhi Police truthfully recording statement of accused, I am looking for a sack of salt!!”
Yechury, on the other hand, called the actions of the Delhi Police “illegitimate, illegal”. “They are scared of legitimate peaceful protests by mainstream political parties & are misusing state power to target the Opposition,” he said of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He added that the BJP’s illegal intimidation will not stop people from opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act. “To assert that all Indians are equal irrespective of their religion, caste, colour, creed, region, gender & political affiliations is not only our Right but our Duty,” he tweeted. “We will exercise it.”
The CPI(M) leader added that hate speech videos by those who instigated violence are on record, as is the video of the person who led the mobs in Jawaharlal Nehru University. “The BJP govt& Delhi Police under it can’t see those because it is hell bent upon destroying our democracy,” he tweeted.
The police also claimed in its chargesheet that Narwal and Kalita told its officers that Ghosh, Apoorvanand and Roy coordinated with the the Islamist group Popular Front of India, as well as the Jamia Coordination Committee to mentor the Pinjra Tod members. The Delhi Police claimed the Pinjra Tod activists used their “educational qualification to misguide the common Muslim people that we have knowledge about the CAA/NRC and it is against the Muslim”.
Apoorvanand, whose name appeared in the disclosure statements, said that it was surprising that the government’s political position, that the accused persons were “continuously poisoning minds of common people against the CAA/NRC” has been put into the supplementary chargesheet as a legal offence.
“While I was not made accused, it is very surprising that the police should accuse three young women of having murdered a 17-year-old boy Amaan,” Apoorvanand said. “It would seem that the accused women are not directly related to the murder, but that they instigated some unknown shooter.” He said the investigation has not revealed who shot at Amaan.
Apoorvanand pointed out that the Delhi High Court had on September 1, while hearing Kalita’s bail application, said that the police has not been able to present any evidence of any incendiary speech against her.
“The supplementary CS does not improve upon the legal case, but only seems to be furthering the political agenda of discrediting the protestors,” Apoorvanand said. “Their act of having planned a protest is being treated as a conspiracy to violence, in which me, along with others, are projected as having abetted that cause, without any basis in law or facts.” Apoorvanand said he was still waiting for the Delhi Police to start an inquiry to find out the truth behind the Delhi violence.
The CAA and the violence
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014.
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.