The Delhi Police Special Cell questioned Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand for about five hours on Monday in connection with the Northeast Delhi riots. The police later seized his phone.
Apoorvanand was summoned for questioning as the Special Cell (New Delhi Range) claimed to have found links with the students’ outfit, Pinjra Tod, and with a WhatsApp group called the ‘Delhi Protests Support Group (DPSG)’.
A senior police officer told The Indian Express: “The professor, who teaches Hindi at Delhi University, was summoned on August 1. He was questioned at Lodhi Colony (on Monday), initially by an ACP rank officer and then the DCP (Special Cell).
He was asked about his association with a WhatsApp group formed in December 2019. We have not found incriminating posts from his side, but he was asked about his association with other group members and how he had met them. He was also asked where he was during the Northeast Delhi riots and the violence in and around the Jamia campus in December, and about his association with Pinjra Tod and the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC).”
Anil Mittal, the Delhi Police Additional PRO, confirmed that Apoorvanand had been questioned at the Lodhi Colony office “in a case relating to the Northeast Delhi riots”, and that his phone was taken “as part of the investigation”.
Sources said 15-20 members of the WhatsApp group have been questioned so far — most recently former JNU student leader Umar Khalid, whose phone was also seized.
Apoorvanand told The Indian Express that while the police were “courteous” in their questioning, their “narrative” that people who supported the anti-CAA protesters were “one of the main sources of violence” in the riots was “worrying”.
“The conversation with the police was very courteous. I do appreciate and respect the right and intent of the police to look into all probabilities while investigating the violence that hit Delhi. The police have every right to seek cooperation of any citizen in its pursuit of truth,” he said.
“It is worrying to see a narrative getting credence that one of the main sources of violence were the people who were supporting the protesters. Protests, even chakka jam, cannot be treated as violence. And violence on them cannot be seen as a reaction to this,” he said.
He said it “would not serve the cause of justice if the instigation of violence against the protesters by powerful political leaders is ignored”.
“I hope that the focus of the investigation would be on the real perpetrators of the violence which, in fact, targeted and destroyed the protests and also caused the loss of livelihood and lives of the people of Delhi,” he said.
Following the February riots, an FIR was registered on March 6, based on information provided by an informer to Sub-Inspector Arvind Kumar. As per the FIR, Kumar said the informer told him that the violence was a “premeditated conspiracy” and named several people.
The case was transferred to the Special Cell, which was tasked with investigating a “larger conspiracy” behind the riots; the unit has since invoked the stringent UAPA against several people.
Nineteen people have been arrested by the Special Cell so far, including 15 under the UAPA. Four have got bail, while 15 are still in jail. The 15 include Pinjra Tod’s Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, who are also part of the WhatsApp group in question.
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