Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday hit out at the Delhi police for naming Communist Party of India (Marxist) Secretary General Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav and others as people who had “encouraged” anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors, in a supplementary chargesheet filed in the Delhi riots case.
“Delhi Police have brought the criminal justice system to ridicule by naming Mr Sitaram Yechury and many other scholars and activists,” Chidambaram tweeted. “The law cannot be such an ass that, if an accused (Gulfisha Fathima) mentions a name in her statement, that person will be named as an accused in the charge sheet.”
The senior leader raised questions over the police’s procedure in the violence. “Has the Delhi Police forgotten that between Information and Charge Sheet there are important steps called Investigation and Corroboration?” he asked.
Apart from Yechury and Yadav, the police had also named economist Jayati Ghosh, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand and documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy in the case.
Chidambaram praised former Indian Police Service officer Julio Ribeiro for demanding transparency in the inquiry. “I am glad that Mr Julio Ribeiro has upbraided the Delhi Police for its biased handling of the Delhi riots case,” he said. “Will the Delhi Police listen to this iconic police officer?”
Ribeiro had on Saturday written to Delhi Commissioner of Police SN Shrivastava, saying that the police were taking action against “peaceful protesters” while ignoring Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, who made incendiary speeches in the build-up to the large-scale communal violence in in February.
The Delhi Police, on the other hand, said they were trying to establish the “veracity and the genuineness” of Rebeiro’s letter since he had not been in contact with them recently.
Several other Congress leaders had also criticised the Delhi Police’s action. “The BJP has reached new lows in its attempt to suppress peaceful dissent against it policies which have torn the socio-economic-politico fabric of this Nation,” Congress Secretary General KC Venugopal tweeted on Saturday. “The misuse of Delhi Police to choke voices like Sitaram Yechury and others is shameful and highly condemnable.”
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also expressed solidarity with the politicians and scholars. “This is worse than atrocious,”he said. “I am in full solidarity with those chargesheeted. They are greater deshbhakts [patriots] than the fraudulent ones in power now.”
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also spoke out against the police. “CPIM Politburo condemns this obnoxious action by the Delhi Police to further the narrative of its political masters and urges the government to desist from such acts of criminalising peaceful political protests,” the party said in a statement.
On Sunday, the police also arrested former Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged role in the North East Delhi riots.
CAA and Delhi violence
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by the 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.