The Delhi Police have displayed a complete lack of basic humanity in their investigation into the communal violence that hit the Capital in February, activists and journalists said on Wednesday. This came a day before the police will file a chargesheet in connection with a first information report in which the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act has been invoked, among other charges.
At a press conference in Delhi, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, writer and former member of planning commission Syeda Hameed, former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, politburo member of Communist Party of India Kavita Krishnan, senior journalist Pamela Philipose and former Delhi University Teachers’ Association chief Nandita Narain expressed their collective anguish with which the police has turned the investigation to arrest those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Bhushan said the investigation into the violence is a conspiracy by the police to frame innocent people who were protesting peacefully against the citizenship law. “Activists of that movement are being called rioters, conspirators...While openly violent ruling party leaders are free,” he said.
Bhushan called the protests “exemplary” as women came forward and the Constitution was being taught to students.
“In the absence of real evidence, police is cooking up dodgy, falsehoods, narratives,” Philipose alleged. She stated that Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Kapil Mishra and Anurag Thakur, who were at the centre of a raging controversy about their own role in instigating the riots, have still not been arrested. “When the police speak of Hindu resentment they are being economical with the truth...the country wants nothing less than a fair investigation into the Delhi riots,” the journalist said.
Philipose urged the people of the country to not be afraid and to speak up against the atrocities.
A video of former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid, who has been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged role in the violence, was played at the press conference. In the clip, Khalid is seen talking about how a false narrative was created in media using misleading clips and how the Narendra Modi government wants to discredit anyone questioning them. “India is so diverse, but all are equal in eyes of law, now they want to change that, they want to imprison me, they want to imprison you in falsehood,” Khalid is heard saying. “I say, don’t be afraid, raise your voice against every injustice.”
Hameed said that she had witnessed the sequence of events since December. “I stay in Jamia,” she said. “Since December what’s happening has been in front of me. This [anti-CAA protests] was a big youth movement...but this has been flipped with lies and they have played with their lives with their own narrative.”
Hameed accused the police of distorting statements and targeting Muslims and other weaker sections. “They want to finish the composite culture of the country,” she alleged. “What kind of a country do you want? We are running towards a theocratic state?”
The activists also released a joint statement against the Delhi Police’s inquiry. “The real culprits – who in broad daylight threatened to clear the protest site by force or those who came with guns into protest sites, or those who chanted provocative and violent slogans – remain free,” it read. “Even all democratic voices of dissent are being gradually implicated.”
The February violence in North East Delhi left over 50 people dead, hundreds injured and thousands displaced.
In multiple chargesheets relating to the riots, Delhi Police have claimed that the violence was part of a well-planned conspiracy to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and was hatched by those who organised the protests against the amended Citizenship Act. The Act introduced a religious test for Indian citizenship that critics said was discriminatory towards Muslims. The protests against the Act started in Delhi in mid-December and spread across the country.