Recently, the Fact-Finding Committee has released a report on the northeast Delhi riots of February 2020. The fact-finding committee has prepared this report for the Delhi minorities commission. The report provides a detailed analysis of the violence that took place in north east Delhi. This report includes testimonies, observations and findings, highlighting the targeting and victimization of the minority community.
The report gives many key findings regarding the violence.
Unfolding of violence
On 23rd February, Kapil Mishra gave a speech at Maujpur, openly calling for forcefully removing the protesters at Jafrabad. By saying, “But after that we will not listen to the Police if roads are not cleared after three days…”, he clearly stated that he and his supporters will take the matter into their hands. While he was giving this statement, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ved Prakash Surya was standing right next to him. The report indicates that by not arresting Kapil Mishra then and there, the police failed to take the most immediate preventive measure to avoid violence.
- Almost immediately after his speech, violence started in different pockets.
- Report states that the violence was carried out in a systematic pattern. Different groups/mobs quickly fanned out to the local areas, openly carrying various weapons and arms like petrol bottles/bombs, iron rods, gas cylinders, stones and even firearms.
- They were chanting slogans like, ‘Jai Shri Ram’, and even “Har Har Modi”, “Modiji, kaat do in Mullon ko [Modi, cut these Muslims into pieces]”, “Aaj tumhe aAzadi denge [Today, we will give you freedom]”
- These groups selectively attacked Muslim individuals, houses, shops, vehicles, mosques and other property. Victims were also asked to show their ID cards and then targeted on the basis of their faith.
- Many mosques, madarsa’s and copies of Holy Quran were vandalized.
Role of Police
- Illuminating the role of police officials, the report states that they were either mute spectators or, in some cases, even alleged participants. “Testimonies also recall how the police were patrolling the area, but when asked for help, they refused saying they had no orders to act.”
- The report stressed on the deliberate inaction by the police.
- It was also reported that in some cases police either refused to register an FIR or did not act upon the FIR. According to the testimonies, it also came forward that in some cases police refused to register an FIR unless the complainant omitted names of the accused.
- The report also emphasized the complicity of the police. The report states, “In some cases, they merely stood as onlookers while the mobs engaged in violence. In others, they explicitly gave a go-ahead to the perpetrators to continue with their rampage (“do what you want”).”
- As stated by a few accounts, police and paramilitary officials even escorted the mobs safely out of the area once the attack was over.
- “In one incident, five Muslim boys were surrounded by 6-7 police officers and brutally beaten up while being asked to chant ‘Jana gana mana’. One of them died some days later. The FIR registered does not name any accused.”
- The investigation process conducted by police has raised serious credibility issues.
- “Almost all the North East Delhi violence-related cases that Police are investigating are based on the premise that riots were planned by anti-CAA protesters to coincide with the US President Donald Trump’s visit to India in the third week of February. The speech of Kapil Mishra made on 23 February 2020 as well as other speeches and statements inciting violence against anti-CAA protesters have been ignored.”
- Several narratives of women suggest that the police forces and violent mobs attacked the Chand Bagh protest site; women were beaten up by male police officers and attacked by mobs. Women have also recounted instances of acid attack by the mobs.
The report also highlights the impact of violence on women. Taking into account, the testimonials given in the report, their houses and jewelry were looted. They have also reported of being threatened with sexual assault.
Among many recommendations mentioned in the report, the committee has asked the government of India as well as the Delhi government to take measures ensuring that Public Prosecutors act in a fair and impartial manner and in the interest of justice.