Citing “disclosure” statements to claim that the anti-CAA/NRC protests in Delhi were held to “malign” the image of the government, the Delhi Police has named CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, economist Jayati Ghosh, Delhi University professor and activist Apoorvanand and documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy in a supplementary chargesheet filed in connection with its probe into the Northeast Delhi riots in February.
The original chargesheet, filed in a Karkardooma court by the Crime Branch, was against Pinjra Tod members Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal and Jamia Millia Islamia’s Gulfisha Fathima in connection with the violence at Jafrabad where an anti-CAA sit-in was held before the riots began. All three are also facing charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in a case filed by the Special Cell of Delhi Police.
In the supplementary chargesheet, police cited “disclosure” statements of Narwal and Kalita and stated that both were given directions by Ghosh, Apoorvanand and Roy to protest in different parts of Delhi against the CAA and NRC.
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Yechury and Yadav, police said, were named in Gulfisha’s disclosure statement, stating that they took part in anti-CAA demonstrations to “provoke and mobilise” crowds.
The disclosure statements of Kalita and Narwal are almost identical, starting with the mention of hatching a conspiracy in December when Ghosh, Apoorvanand and Roy allegedly “explained” to them that “we have to protest against CAA/NRC for which we can go to any extreme”; Umar Khalid’s “tips for doing protest against CAA/NRC”; and even a spelling mistake that mentions “massage” instead of message.
Narwal and Kalita refused to sign the disclosure statements, the chargesheet stated.
The statements of the two Pinjra Tod members, police said, stated: “In the month of December, after passing CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), Jaidi (sic) Ghosh, Professor Apurva Nand (sic), Rahul Roy had explained that we have to protest against CAA/NRC for which we can go any extreme due to which we can through the Govt, and Umar Khalid had also given some tips for doing protest against CAA/NRC. On the directions of these persons, Umar Khalid’s United Against Hate Group and JCC (Jamia Coordination Committee) & members of our Pinjdra (sic) Tod together started protest in different parts of Delhi.”
“On 20.12.2019, I along with other members of Pinjda Tod Group participated in the protest called by Chander Shekhar ‘Rawan’ (sic) in Darya Ganj. When police tried to stop the move towards Jantar Mantar, we instigated protesters to be violent due to which… several persons got injuries.”
Both statements, police said, stated “Professor Apurva Nand” told them that “JCC is going to start protest at 20-25 places in Delhi”, and “as per directions of Umar Khalid and others, we chose the local girl of Northeast Delhi, namely Gulfisha alias Gul, and she along with Taslim and others had taken responsibility that they will gather the crowd for the protest against CAA/NRC. We also told them they will call women and children for blocking the road. Due to these protest, we will able to malign the image of Govt that the Govt is against the Muslim community”.
The statements, police said, stated that it was on the directions of PFI, JCC and the mentioned persons that Pinjra Tod members, along with several others, “started protest at Old Seelampur bus stand”. The statements, police said, also mentioned that former MLA Mateen Ahmed and AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan visited the area.
“We used our educational qualification to misguide the common Muslim people that we have knowledge about the CAA/NRC and it is against the Muslim,” their statements said.
Gulfisha’s statement, according to police, said she met Narwal and Kalita during anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh, Jantar Mantar and ITO. It said she was “told by the leaders of JCC, Devangana of Pinjda Tod, Natasha Narwal, that we have to strongly oppose CAA/NRC and go to any extent”. Police said she was able to “uproot and bring two communities face to face, on the guidelines of Natasha and Devangana Kalita and Umar Khalid and others, the responsibility to protest in Northeast Delhi, the people who had women and children, were removed from their homes on the roads”.
Stating that Kalita and Narwal were presented as JNU scholars so that the less literate could be “tricked”, Gulfisha’s statement, according to police, said: “Big leaders and lawyers started coming in to provoke and mobilise this crowd, including Omar (sic) Khalid, Chander Sekhar Ravan (sic), Yogendar Yadav, Sitaram Yechury and lawyer Mahmood Pracha, Chaudhary Matin (Mateen), etc. Pracha said that sitting in demonstration is your democratic right and the rest of the leaders filled the feeling of discontent in the community by calling CAA/NRC anti-Muslim.”
Based on Gulfisha’s statement, police said that speeches made in the days leading up to US President Donald Trump’s visit to India were done to tarnish the image of the country.
The chargesheet stated that due to the provocative statements made by the accused persons, people of “other communities” got upset and started protesting against the road blockages.
The anti-CAA Jafrabad sit-in had prompted a pro-CAA rally by BJP’s Kapil Mishra in the area. He had warned police that they would take to the streets if anti-CAA protesters were not removed. A day later, riots broke out.
According to Gulfisha’s statement, on February 24, when police dispersed both sides which came face to face, “people started coming with all the weapons, including firearms”. In her statement, according to police, she said “our plan smoothed in the Northeast Delhi riots” when on February 25, a crowd of around 10-12,000 people armed with weapons turned up at Jafrabad Metro station. It claimed that women came armed with chilli powder and tried to march towards Maujpur where pro-CAA protesters had gathered. When police stopped them, the crowd pelted stones even as the accused persons protected themselves from cameras and instigated the mob, according to the statement.
Delhi Police spokesperson Anil Mittal, in an official statement, said, “It is worth mentioning that the disclosure statement has been truthfully recorded as narrated by the accused person. A person is not arraigned as an accused only on the basis of the disclosure statement. However, it is only on the existence of sufficient corroborative evidence that further legal action is taken. The matter is currently sub judice.”
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