Updated: June 23, 2020 6:17:22 am
THE DELHI Police investigation into one of the first killings in the February communal riots in Northeast Delhi has concluded that the victim, 18-year-old Amaan, succumbed to bullets fired by a “violent crowd” at police that ricocheted off the Metro line pillars, according to court documents reviewed by The Indian Express. Amaan died on February 25 near the anti-CAA protest site outside the Jaffrabad Metro station.
Police arrested 10 men in the case between March 5 and April 13, and named them as accused in the chargesheet filed under IPC section 302 (murder): Mohd Shahid (37), Mohd Shahrukh (24), Mohd Gulfam (23), Mohd Gufran (23), Aqeel (26), Mehfooz Raja (30), Mohd Azad (39), RifaqatAli (39), Mohd Faizan (19) and Salman (26).
Court records show that police fired 108 bullets that day at the site. Records also show police have cited the opinion of doctors to claim that the fatal injuries were caused by bullets of calibre not used by them. They told the court that their personnel fired only “in the air” or on the “lower part of the body” of suspected rioters in “self defence” and to “save public at large”.
In a set of documents filed in court — to oppose the bail plea of Mohd Shahid, one of the accused who was also injured in the firing — police have cited a number of reasons to support their charges. There is no mention of the murder weapon or identity of the person who used it.
Police told court that the accused were identified on the basis of the clothes they wore, including shirts, jeans and skull caps; footage taken by an “authorised” videographer hired by police to record the protests; and mobile phone records that, they allege, point to the location of users.
The communal riots were triggered by clashes following the gathering of anti-CAA protesters outside the Jaffrabad Metro station on February 23, and led to over 50 deaths in the week that followed.
Amaan, a resident of Seelampur, was among eight men who received bullet injuries in the area on February 25 and were rushed to hospitals. The teenager, who was shot near Crescent Public School, died hours later in LNJP Hospital.
In the chargesheet filed at the trial court on June 2, police have listed disclosure statements, recorded under section 161 of the CrPC, from some of the accused that name the others — and prosecution witnesses that include 33 police and six CRPF personnel, a private videographer and the owner of a private studio, and nine doctors.
The chargesheet says investigators examined the crime scene on March 19, but “failed to get any footage trace” from CCTV cameras near the spot and adjoining areas. It says footage obtained from a private cameraman, Madan, who was hired by police to record the riots was used to identify the accused and ascertain the “clothes worn” by them.
In its reply filed on Shahid’s bail plea at the trial court on June 1, police claim that “the violent crowd was bent upon proceeding towards Maujpur, where already another mob of the different community was present”.
Taken together, the police reply and the chargesheet present crucial details:
# Cause of injury: “During the investigation, a lot of effort was taken to find out which rioter shot Amaan. However, the violent crowd was thousands in number, belonging to a particular community, and no one came forward to speak the truth. However, according to key witnesses present during the incident, the rioters were aiming at police and firing bullets. There is a Metro line above and pillars below. The bullets collided with the pillars and hit the crowd, and one among them was Amaan who was shot by the bullets. Many other persons also were hit by these bullets,” the chargesheet states.
# Cause of death: The chargesheet cites doctors who conducted the post-mortem as saying that Amaan died of a head injury “caused by a projectile of firearm weapon”.
Citing a second medical opinion, which was sought by police, the chargesheet states: The injury was “possible by both 7.65 mm or 8 mm bore weapons”; the “intact bullet/projectile was not found”; “only the broken piece of the projectile was found in the trace of the wound”; and, the “bore of the weapon will be opined by the ballistic expert”.
# Bullet calibre: In its court reply, police claim that it recovered 11 cartridges of 7.65mm, seven cartridges of 8 mm, and 17 cartridges of 5.56 mm calibre from the spot. The chargesheet states that the 108 bullets fired by police from their Insas rifles were of 5.56 mm.
# The incident: The chargesheet refers to a recorded statement from Amaan’s father, Iqbal Ahmed: “…my son, left home around 2-3 pm. When he reached Tentwala school, there was a fight. I don’t know from where bullets were being fired, but they struck my son. There were 4,000-5,000 persons at the spot. Some persons carried my son to JPC Hospital and later to LNJP hospital. Some people came and informed that due to firing from the crowd, Amaan had to be admitted. I request you to hand over my son’s dead body. I don’t want any type of legal action.”
# Call records, video footage: The chargesheet claims that “examination of videos captured during the incident proves that all the arrested accused were present at the spot”. It says that questioning of accused and CDR records led to raids at locations where those who fired were suspected to be hiding or likely to meet, but they “could not find any clues and the search is still in progress”.
The “voice of people firing” was also captured in the recording, police claim, adding that they have asked for CCTV footage from the PWD department.
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