New Delhi: A year after the northeast Delhi riots, in which 53 people were killed and there was widespread damage to property, police investigation is still pending in 407 of the 755 cases registered, ThePrint has learnt.
Charge sheets have been filed in the rest of the 348 cases, against 1,569 people for alleged involvement in the communal riots. Police sources said among those named in the charge sheets are 802 Hindus and 767 Muslims.
According to the police data, accessed by ThePrint, while a total of 1,818 people — 956 Muslims and 868 Hindus — were arrested in connection with the cases, 1,165 are still in jail, and 652 (almost 36 per cent) are out on bail.
The 407 cases, in which investigation is still ongoing, include some in which no arrest has not been made yet, said the police.
Out of the total 755 cases, as many as 62 are being investigated by three special investigation teams (SITs) constituted by the Delhi Police Crime Branch. One case that alleged the riots were “meticulously planned by key conspirators” is with the Special Cell, and the charge sheet in the case has been filed. The remaining 692 are with the northeast district police.
Out of the 62 cases with the SITs, data shows, charge sheets have been filed in 46 cases and bail granted to 86 accused — 35 Hindus and 51 Muslims.
Talking about the pending investigation, a senior police officer said: “Keeping in mind the sensitivity of the cases and the Covid times, the investigation has moved very swiftly. We have been able to make arrests in over 400 cases and have charge-sheeted 348 cases out of the 755 cases, which is good progress.”
He added: “We have also filed supplementary charge sheets in 120 cases. Investigation of other cases is ongoing.”
The riots started on 23 February last year and went on for three days till 25 February, with men armed with sticks and rods roaming around the lanes of northeast Delhi setting vehicles and shops on fire, vandalising property including places of worship.
The worst-hit areas were that of Jafrabad, Welcome, Seelampur, Bhajanpura, Jyoti Nagar, Karawal Nagar, Khajoori Khas, Gokal Puri, Dayalpur and New Usmanpur.
‘Fair and impartial investigation’
The Delhi Police claimed that they registered cases in a free and fair manner.
“The investigation of northeast riots was taken up in right earnest and 755 cases were meticulously investigated. The equal number of arrests from both communities show that no single community was favoured or targeted,” said the officer quoted above.
“The numbers speak for themselves — it has been absolutely fair and impartial investigation, relying upon credible, material and scientific evidence,” he added.
The officer added that extensive use of technology in identification and arrest was the “hallmark of investigation”.
“Video Analytics and Facial Recognition System used for analysis of CCTV footage and video recordings from smart phones. 945 CCTV footage and video recordings were obtained from multiple sources, including CCTV Cameras installed on the roads, video recordings from smart phones, video footage obtained from media houses and other sources were analysed with the help of video analytic tools and facial recognition system,” he said.
“The photographs therein were matched for multiple databases, which included Delhi Police criminal dossier photographs and other databases maintained with the government. This helped identifying persons involved in riots, which proved helpful in taking legal action after corroboration with other supporting evidence,” he added.
The police also claimed to have used artificial intelligence (AI) for the enhancement of CCTV images for better identification of rioters. The e-Vahan and driving licence databases were used for further identification, they claimed.
“Dumped data of the several riot hotspots were obtained for those crucial hours. Moreover, geo locations were used in various cases to reach a logical conclusion,” the officer said.