New Delhi: The Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) has issued a notice to the Delhi Police Commissioner S. N. Shrivastava on the grounds that police officers have been “arresting young Muslim boys by their dozens every single day” from northeast district, and that the arrests have continued even after the lockdown.
The notice, dated 3 April, says that the “trend of randomly arresting young Muslim boys of the northeast district is not acceptable” and asks the police to desist from it.
“These are random because a police force would descend on an area in early morning and randomly arrest all Muslim boys in the range of 20-30 years of age,” Zafarul Islam, the DMC chief, told ThePrint.
Islam said people have been arrested on the basis of CCTV footage, when they could only have been passers-by or onlookers.
“Now there are thousands of CCTV cameras in every area and anyone can be easily picked up and framed. Many families in northeast Delhi have sent away their young boys to their villages or to relatives fearing such blind arrests,” he added.
The notice also cites allegations of police arresting individuals in order to extract bribes from them. “Some police officers are using arrests as a pretext to extract huge sums of money as bribes or ransom money which, if paid, will ensure the freedom of the arrested youth,” it states.
Islam said the commission is yet to receive a reply from the police commissioner.
Investigations haven’t stopped, so why should arrests: Delhi cops
The Delhi Police has said it is well within its rights to continue arrests during the lockdown period.
“No investigations have halted due to the lockdown, then why should arrests stop? These are arrests based on legitimate investigations,” Joint Commissioner of Police (northeast Delhi), Alok Kumar, told ThePrint.
While Kumar said there isn’t yet “a specific number” on the number of arrests pertaining to the riots, the affected should complain if they think there has been an error.
“Instead of sweeping allegations against the police, people should come forward and approach senior officials with specific complaints against investigating officers,” he said.
The DCM notice also alludes to videos doing the rounds on social media, of Muslim women allegedly from Mustafabad protesting against the arrests. “Muslim women in Mustafabad came out protesting against this objectionable and dubious activity.” the notice says.
Kumar said the police have taken cognisance of the video.
“I have been noticing since the beginning that people are trying to create an impression that only innocents are being arrested. This isn’t true,” he said. “Shops were burnt, houses were set on fire. All this happened in northeast Delhi. So people can’t act like saints now.”