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Delhi Riots: Two years on, police identify one personnel in Vande Mataram video, HC questions delay

Faizan died in a hospital on February 26, 2020, a day after his release from a police station, where he was taken after he had been allegedly assaulted by policemen on 66 Foota Road in Northeast Delhi and, along with four others, was forced to sing Vande Mataram and the national anthem.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi |
Updated: January 12, 2022 7:43:27 am
The court also asked why the cyber cell has not been able to trace the origin of the video.

Nearly two years after the death of 23-year-old Faizan, who was seen in a video lying injured on the ground as security personnel forced him to sing Vande Mataram and the national anthem during the 2020 Delhi riots, the police on Tuesday informed the Delhi High Court that they have identified and questioned a head constable in the case.

The single-judge bench of Justice Mukta Gupta, however, questioned the delay in probing the case, and asked: “It has been two years, you have been able to just identify some person?” While adjourning the case for hearing on February 22, the court also sought a detailed status report on the investigation and directed the DCP and investigating officer to remain present on that day.

Faizan died in a hospital on February 26, 2020, a day after his release from a police station, where he was taken after he had been allegedly assaulted by policemen on 66 Foota Road in Northeast Delhi and, along with four others, was forced to sing Vande Mataram and the national anthem.

During the hearing of a petition filed by Faizan’s mother Kismatun for a court-monitored SIT probe into her son’s death, Justice Gupta said it should not have taken two years to identify the policemen. The court also asked why the cyber cell has not been able to trace the origin of the video.

Inspector Pankaj Arora, the initial investigating officer, submitted that police found head constable Ravinder had made the video but forensic examination of the suspect’s phone did not show anything conclusive. When Ravinder was questioned, Arora told the court, he denied shooting the video.

“But there were certain things about him due to which we are sure that he made the video. Head constable Ravinder was the only one not wearing a helmet in the video…He had also got an injury on the head during the riots. Isne helmet nahi daala hua hai, ye patti daale hue nazar aaraha hai (He was not wearing a helmet, and his head was bandaged),” submitted Arora, referring to a physical description of the person seen shooting the video.

“He was made to undergo a lie detector test which revealed that what he is saying is ‘deceptive’. He also had a smoke gun, which is visible in the video…,” Arora submitted.

Arora also told the court that Ravinder has not revealed names of other cops. However, the court was told that a forensic expert has given a report that Ravinder was the person making the video. “We have also taken his voice samples and sent them to FSL. The report is awaited,” Arora told the court.

Justice Gupta asked whether the cyber expert had said anything about height, body stature of the policemen visible in the video. The court also said the police department would know the identity of the personnel who were deployed on the date of the incident. “You can zero down easily. How much time will the identification take place?” asked the court.

The court also asked whether CCTV footage of Jyoti Nagar Police Station, where Faizan was allegedly detained before his death, were preserved. Last year, the police had told the court that the cameras were not working between February 24 and March 4, 2020, due to technical reasons and that there was no tampering involved.

“I want all answers in my status report,” said Justice Gupta, while asking the police to submit details about the exact time when the cameras stopped functioning. The bench also questioned whether statements of other injured victims have been recorded. Last year, the police in a written response had told the court that they are trying to ascertain the identity of personnel seen in the video and that only one policeman has been “pinpointed on probable basis”. It also claimed that Faizan and others were kept at the Jyoti Nagar station as per their own wish.

Kisamtun is being represented by advocates Vrinda Grover and Soutik Banerjee. In the petition, it has been alleged that Faizan was “targeted, brutally assaulted” and “injured by the policemen” at Kardampuri and then “illegally detained” in an injured condition at the police station where he was denied timely critical medical care resulting in his death later at a hospital.

Grover has previously argued before the court that police “conveniently” have been claiming that CCTV cameras were not working at the station. While referring to the contents of the videoclip in which Faizan and others are being seen assaulted, it has been alleged in the petition that “the taunts and abuses used by the police alluded that the injured men, simply by virtue of being Muslims, were unpatriotic and were being ‘taught a lesson’”.

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