The Delhi Police is trying to “falsely implicate” people in its probe into the February riots, while the real conspiracy is different from what is being propagated, social activists alleged while speaking in an online briefing on Friday.
Former JNU student leader Umar Khalid, Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, student activist Kawalpreet Kaur, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand and activist and author Harsh Mander convened the virtual meeting.
Later, over 1,000 citizens from all walks of life including, filmmaker Aparna Sen, former culture secretary Jawahar Sircar, historian Ramchandra Guha, former chairperson, Delhi Minority Commission Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, former governor Margaret Alva and others issued a statement, objecting to the manner in which the “Delhi Police has been conducting the probe into the riots cases”.
Coerced statements & manufactured evidences
Citing “strong evidence of coerced confessional statements and manufactured evidence”, the signatories have sought assurances from the Delhi Police that these ‘practices will be stopped’. And they have urged the force for a fair and impartial investigation to book the real culprits of the riots.”
“Stop coercing confessional’ statements to manufacture evidence and stop falsely implicating people, including Umar Khalid. Stop wrongly invoking UAPA to give the colour of conspiracy against the state,” they said.
Communal violence broke out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after citizenship law supporters and protesters clashed with each other, leaving 53 people dead and hundreds injured.
Real conspiracy & Propagation
In the online briefing, Mander said “Delhi police believes that there was a conspiracy behind the Delhi riots. We agree. But the real conspiracy is very different one from what the Delhi police is propagating.” The Delhi Police had included Mander’s name in some of the charge sheets it has filed in the riots.
He said there was a build-up to an atmosphere of hate during the Delhi elections when senior political leaders made hate speeches targeting anti-CAA-NRC protesters.
Umar Khalid asked the Delhi Police why no action was taken against those leaders who gave hate speeches. (Khalid was booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a case related to the riots)
Police’s involvement in riots
Yogendra Yadav asked 11 questions in the briefing. Some of the questions pertained to the two firing incidents that took place at Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh. And some, related to the hate speeches given by senior political leaders.
Multiple videos emerged of people associated with the ruling dispensation openly inciting and participating in the violence and carnage. In one such video a woman was seen openly asking people to kill or die. The video was streamed live on Facebook from Maujpur, he said.
He also asked whether “the Delhi Police has ordered any probe to several accounts, in which their personnel allegedly were complicit in the violence, directing mobs pelting stones or looking the other way when mobs were indulging in violence in front of them.”
“Many of those already arrested were initially in different FIRs. And, when they secured bail, the police again implicated them in the conspiracy case under UAPA. Is this a ploy to keep protestors in jail for longer periods,” he asked.
WhatsApp groups’ conspiracy theory
He said the Delhi Police has been grilling people about conversations in some WhatsApp groups with hundreds of their members. It is ridiculous to believe that riots of this scale were conspired for several weeks on WhatsApp groups and the police caught unaware of the conspiracy. Are the police pursuing this line of argument in order to safeguard real culprits?” he asked.
Raising these questions, Yadav said, “Is the Delhi Police inquiring into a conspiracy or is the investigation itself a conspiracy?”
Kawalpreet Kaur, Delhi unit president of All India Students’ Association said there is an attempt to “scare” students. She asked the students to remain united and refuse to be scared or silenced.
“Today, the government forces the students to give exams during pandemic. And, as the student movement is exposing unemployment and recruitment scams, the government wants to divert attention,” she said.