New Delhi: The Delhi Police Thursday said two Special Investigation Teams (SITs) were being set up to investigate the communal riots that rippled through the Northeast district of the national capital.
The teams are being headed by two deputy commissioners of police (DCP) — Rajesh Deo and Joy Tirkey, while Additional Commissioner of Police, Crime, B.K. Singh will head the overall investigation.
The Delhi Police have so far registered 48 FIRs of arson and rioting, and have arrested 170 people in the last four days. The cases have now been transferred to the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police.
According to a police source, two SITs were being formed to ensure “comprehensive and effective investigation” of the cases.
The Crime Branch is currently also investigating the JNU violence cases of 3 and 5 January, but is yet to make an arrest.
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Deo & Tirkey
Deo was the police officer who linked Kapil Gujjar, the man who opened fire at Shaheen Bagh on 1 February, to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), resulting in him being barred from election duty.
The Election Commission took exception to his statements at the time since an investigation was still ongoing, and said it could hamper “free and fair elections”.
Deo had said that Gujjar had joined AAP in 2019 and had also circulated some of his photos with AAP ministers.
Tirkey had investigated the sexual harassment case against former Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, who was eventually given a clean chit by a three-judge in-house committee that found “no substance” in the allegations.
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How the investigation will run
According to a police officer, each SIT will have four assistant commissioners of police (ACP). Each ACP will head a team of three inspectors, four sub-inspectors and three head constables.
“All these individual cases will be looked into by senior officers who are a part of these two SITs. The investigation is on in full swing and we are making arrests on a daily basis,” the police source said.
DCP M.S. Randhawa said the police have accessed footage from multiple cameras that were installed in the area and have also sought video clips available with local residents and journalists to identify the miscreants.
“We have collected multiple footage and are going through it. The investigation is on,” Randhawa said.
“The situation is now under control. We have deployed adequate force in the area and have also conducted 350 Aman committee meetings so far,” he added.
Aman committees are the Delhi Police’s peace committees that engage with local leaders during such situations.
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WhatsApp groups under scanner
Police said a unit of the SIT has been tasked with scanning all WhatsApp groups that were used to circulate videos and messages, which eventually lead to the violence.
According to a source, the build-up to the violent clashes started Monday morning when messages on groups of both Hindus and Muslims began circulating.
“From the arrests that have been made, we have found that all of them used WhatsApp as a medium to not only instigate people but also to coordinate (the mob attacks),” the source said. “We have seized the phones and are going through their chats,” he said.
Another source said that police recovered chats that show people were encouraged to bring stones to Maujpur and Kardampuri where protests were on.
“There are almost 100 to 120 WhatsApp groups that are being scanned,” he said.
The police are also looking at the role of “outsiders” in the violence.
“We suspect that many people came from UP… These are the people who also got weapons with them,” the police source said.
Delhi Police claims to have recovered over 500 cartridges from the Northeast district.
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