New Delhi: In a letter addressed to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday, residents of the city have sought an independent probe into the February communal riots under a retired judge “of suitable stature”.
The group of citizens have called the Delhi Police’s reports on the violence “totally one- sided and politically motivated” and addresses its sharp contrast with the one released by the Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) recently.
A fact-finding committee set up by the commission has accused Delhi Police of being complicit in and abetting the violence.
Signatories of the letter include retired government officers, artists, authors, senior media personnel, political leaders and activists from trade unions, representatives of women’s organisations and students.
Some of the notable names are Brinda Karat, Harsh Mander, Mrinal Pande, Shyam Menon, Jayati Ghosh, Aishe Ghosh and Nakul Singh Sawhney.
The letter states that the citizens “are committed to ensure punishment to those guilty of the violence”. The signatories have also listed out six grounds for setting up the independent probe.
First is the DMC report on communal violence and its recommendation to set up an independent committee. Second, the letter alleges, Delhi Police’s “double standards” and the role of political functionaries in inciting violence.
Third, the letter alleges, Delhi Police’s claims of an “even handed” number of people being arrested from both communities is wrong and claims that it has tried to conceal the “role played by BJP leaders in the communal violence”.
The fourth point focuses on a lack of “inquiry into the role of the police” and calls it a case where “the accused and the investigators belong to the same team”.
In the fifth point, the letter talks about the “grave injustice being done to the democratic right to dissent” where the communal violence is being linked to the anti-CAA protests in December.
The final ground addresses “various constraints imposed by the present centralised structure under the lieutenant governor”. The letter, however, states that the Delhi government is well within its rights to “institute such an inquiry”.
What happened in Northeast Delhi
The communal riots had broken out in the backdrop of the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act 2019.
The violence and bloodshed began on 23 February, originating in Delhi’s Jaffrabad, where a sit-in protest by women anti-CAA protesters was underway. BJP leader Kapil Mishra had then called for the Delhi Police to clear the roads, saying that he will do it if the authorities fail.
Clashes had ensued where at least 53 people were killed and severely injured. A police officer and an intelligence official were also killed in the riots.
Since then, the Delhi Police’s Special Cell has arrested Jamia Millia Islamia students Safoora Zargar (who was given bail on 23 June), Asif Tanha, Sharjeel Imam and other anti-CAA campaigners, all of whom are facing charges under sections 13, 16, 17 and 18 of the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The attacks had unfolded just as US President Donald Trump was making his first official visit to India.
Read the full text of the letter below: