Leaders of five opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left, Thursday met President Ram Nath Kovind and asked him to direct the government to set up a probe by a sitting or retired judge into the investigations by the Delhi Police in the Northeast Delhi riots in February. They told the President that the police, under “directions of the Union Home Minister”, are “orchestrating a script” that is linking peaceful anti-CAA-NPR-NRC protests to this violence.
“A credible and unbiased probe is crucial to restore public trust in the law and order machinery of the state. The investigation cannot be allowed to become a fishing and roving expedition aimed at causing a chilling effect on dissent and protest in the country. We… urge you to call upon the Government of India to institute an inquiry into this investigation under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, headed by sitting/retired judge(s),” the leaders said in a petition to the President.
The leaders – Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, his CPI counterpart D Raja, Rajya Sabha MP and RJD leader Manoj Kumar Jha and DMK’s Kanimozhi – told the President that there are “serious questions about the role played by the Delhi Police during the violence and also the manner in which police is harassing and attempting to falsely implicate activists and young people who took part in the anti-CAA/NRC/NPR movements as the perpetrators of violence”.
“Such a manufactured conspiracy theory has now begun to falsely implicate political leaders. The name of Yechury… and also names of well-known intellectuals, academicians and activists have now surfaced in material put out in the public domain. This is a disturbing trend that raises serious questions over the manner of such investigations,” they said.
They claimed “there are several publicly documented accounts and videos of police being complicit in the violence, directing mobs pelting stones, or looking the other way when mobs were indulging in violence”.
“The notable silence in the chargesheets on the role of leaders associated with the BJP, who gave inflammatory speeches, raises serious concern about the impartiality of the probe. Since December 2019, there are publicly documented speeches by leaders of the ruling party instigating and provoking violence against those involved in the anti-CAA protests, including that of a minister raising slogans to ‘shoot the traitors’,” the memorandum said.
Alleging that Delhi Police has turned a blind eye towards the role of its own personnel and BJP leaders in the violence, the leaders said police, at the same time, appear to be “pursuing a line of inquiry criminalising the protests against the CAA and portraying them as a conspiracy which resulted in the riots in Delhi”.
“The entire investigation appears to be aimed at arriving at a pre-meditated theory about a conspiracy propounded by the Home Minister in Lok Sabha in March 2020, before any investigation had even begun into the riots. The FIR… regarding this ‘conspiracy’ being investigated by the Special Cell, in which the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) has been invoked, is being used to carry out a fishing and roving inquiry against activists and young persons who were involved with the protests,” they said.
“The ongoing probe by Delhi Police, therefore, does not inspire confidence. There are serious questions about the impartiality of the probe, especially given the recent order of the Special Commissioner of Police (Crime) citing ‘degree of resentment among the Hindu community’ regarding arrests of ‘some Hindu youth’ from riot-hit areas in Northeast Delhi and directing that ‘due care and precaution’ be taken while making arrests,” they added.
Delhi Police had earlier said, “The police is doing its work in a professional, free and impartial manner… To suggest otherwise, is a deliberate attempt to malign Delhi Police’s image and is totally biased and unsubstantiated.”
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