THE CHARGESHEET filed by police in the murder case of head constable Rattan Lal during the February riots in Northeast Delhi includes the statement of a witness claiming that he had heard people at an anti-CAA protest site shout that a pandal had been “set on fire by some of (BJP leader) Kapil Mishra’s people”.
According to the statement, the witness — identified as Najam ul Hasan — was present at the protest but “did not see” the alleged incident on February 24, and only heard others shouting about it.
Hasan has been listed in the chargesheet among “important witnesses” who were “fully aware about the conspiracy and planning” of the protests at Chand Bagh.
Delhi Police have named 164 witnesses, including 76 police personnel and seven local residents, in the chargesheet.
Hasan’s statement was recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC, which is evidence admissible during the criminal trial. It says: “...pandal mein Kapil Mishra ke kuch logon ne aag laga di. Maine yeh dekha nahin, par log aisa shor macha rahe thhe (The stage was set on fire by some of Kapil Mishra’s people. I did not see it happening, but people were shouting about it).”
Mishra did not respond to calls and texts from The Indian Express seeking comment on the allegation.
He had previously responded to allegations about his role in the violence by denying that his supporters had pelted stones and claiming that his presence at the site was to “release pressure” as the “people were very angry” that the protests had blocked two roads that are “the lifelines of this area”.
Mishra’s role in the escalating tension surrounding the anti-CAA protests in Northeast Delhi sparked outrage after he held a counter-rally near the Jaffrabad Metro Station on February 23.
Mishra had also gathered with his supporters about 2 km from the Jaffrabad protest site, threatened protesters in the presence of police, and tweeted later that “till (Trump) is in India, we are leaving the area peacefully…after that, we won’t listen to you (police)”.
In his statement, Hasan claims: “…slogans were raised on the service road. A few people from Chand Bagh were against this blockade. I went there after taking a bath around 11 am…men and women were injured. When I enquired, I was told by the crowd that SHO (Bhajanpura PS) had ordered a lathicharge. This information had spread throughout the area. When this reached Mustafabad, people from Mustafabad started reaching Chand Bagh…”
Referring to police action, the statement says: “…ACP spoke to the crowd to make them understand. He sent two constables but when they reached the spot, the crowd gathered around them. They said if something wrong has happened, then a proper investigation will be conducted.”
In his statement, Hasan claims that he left for home “when the chaos increased” — and it was when he returned later that he heard people shouting about the alleged pandal incident.
Detailing the police’s analysis of witness statements recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC, the chargesheet claims: “Continuous misinformation about CAA and NRC was being spread from the protest site in which several students of DU and Jamia were also involved. Illegal march was taken out on February 23, which was stopped by police and later in the night the conspirators held a meeting in which strategy for February 24 was decided.”
It also claims: “The conspirators were fully aware that violence may ensue and had accordingly directed the protesters to arm themselves. The organisers and protesters chose the date and time for the march and road blockage, that is, February 23-24 for riots, keeping in view the view of Mr Donald Trump President of USA to gain the maximum impact.”
Hasan’s statement also refers to Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav and advocate D S Bindra, among others. Referring to an alleged meeting before the protest, it claims: “Bindra started the conversation and asked us to organise a protest against NRC and CAA. He told us that he will organise a langar and a medical camp, and the Sikh community is with us. He told us that if we don’t wake up now, we will meet the same fate as Sikhs in 1984.”
In his statement, Hasan claims that “a tent was brought on rent and slogans were raised… The protest had begun and people from outside were called… Advocate Bindra, Yogendra Yadav and many students from JNU, DU and Jamia.”
The Indian Express had reported on June 21 that Yadav and Bindra find mention in the case’s chargesheet — not as part of the 17 accused but for alleged “links” to “organisers of the (Chand Bagh) protest site”.
Responding to the claim, Yadav had said: “Everything that I spoke is in the public domain. Please point out one instance where I have directly or indirectly incited violence of any kind.”
In his response, Bindra had said: “I have been organising langar for five years, and I received a request for one at Chand Bagh… I don’t remember the date. I only organise langar, how am I responsible for violence?”