India: February’s anti-Muslim Delhi riots ‘well-planned’: Inquiry report

18th Jul 2020
India: February’s anti-Muslim Delhi riots ‘well-planned’: Inquiry report

By Cheena Kapoor

 

NEW DELHI, India (AA) : February’s anti-Muslim riots in the Indian capital New Delhi were “well-planned,” said a fact-finding report by the Delhi Minorities Commission on Thursday.

In a report, the commission highlights that riots caused the displacement of a large number of Muslim families.

The communal riots, which turned violent, in northeast Delhi between Feb. 23 and 27 killed over 53 people, mostly Muslims, and injured over 250.

The report also documented that 11 mosques, five Muslim seminaries, one shrine, and one graveyard were attacked and damaged in the violence.

It also points out that the submission of charge sheets into complaints, without proper investigation, has created doubts over probe’s impartiality.

‘Inflammatory’ speech

The report noted that violence erupted in various parts of northeast Delhi within hours of Feb. 23 “inflammatory” speech by Kapil Mishra, a politician affiliated with the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

On Feb 26, High Court asked Delhi Police to take a “conscious decision” to register a first information report (FIR) in 24 hours against Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma for their speeches that led to incitement of violence.

To date, no FIR has been registered against the BJP leaders.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, M.R. Shamshad, advocate-on-record, Supreme Court of India, who headed the 10-member fact-finding committee, said the whole narrative of the riots was changed by the police.

“Certain set of FIRs were prioritized causing a perception that Muslims instigated the riots. This would not have happened if the complaints from Muslim residents were also investigated without lapses, their complaints were mostly bypassed or delayed,” said Shamshad.

“In some cases, police merely stood as onlookers while the mobs engaged in looting, burning and violence. In others, they explicitly gave a go-ahead to the perpetrators to continue with their rampage… A few accounts state how police and paramilitary officers even escorted the perpetrators safely out of the area once the attack was over. In some cases, police escorted victims also to safety,” the report said.

He further added that the victims, most of whom were Muslims, would have stood better served with fast justice and faster disbursement of monetary relief. In several areas of northeast Delhi, properties owned by Muslims were looted, burned, and destroyed.

The report stated that violence broke out in different parts of Northeast Delhi after “BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s speech at Maujpur, in which he openly called for forcefully removing the protesters at Jafrabad in Northeast Delhi”.

A resident of Old Mustafabad is old the team that residents of Brijpuri slaughtered Muslim worshippers stepping out of Farroqia Masjid and threw them in the drain. According to the report, the respondent said he recognised some Rahul Verma and Arun Baisoya who were part of the mob, which was hacking Muslims to death. Verma allegedly shot at many who were offering prayers inside the mosque. Baisoya allegedly threw petrol bombs inside the mosque.

“The violence… was clearly preceded by a number of speeches by BJP leaders openly maligning anti-CAA protesters… making derogatory remarks laden with communal undertones and open threats of violence, and to cast the Shaheen Bagh protests in a negative light to build an ‘anti-Shaheen Bagh’ narrative,” the report stated

Ruling BJP rejects report

The 130-page fact-finding report has been submitted to Delhi’s Lt. Governor Anil Baijal, and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who are yet to take any action.

The commission’s report also points out that large armed mobs of people attacked the Muslim-dominated northeast Delhi, chanting slogans like “Jai Shri Ram”, “Har Har Modi,” slogans associated with the right-wing ruling party.

“Mobs specifically vandalized and burned Muslim places of worship and learning as well as religious symbols like copies of the Holy Quran. Non-Muslim places of worship in Muslim majority areas remained untouched and were guarded by Muslim neighbors during the riots,” it stated.

The fact-finding committee has made its recommendations, asking the government to ensure proper and prompt registration of cases, ensure the recording of victims’ statements, and provide witness and victim protection, among many others.

Shamshad added that there is a lower-footing of such reports and it is has been sent for a wait.

Harish Khurana, the ruling BJP spokesman, rejected the report.

“When Delhi Police has already stated in court that there is no role proved of Kapil Mishra and Parwesh Sahib Singh [BJP’s general secretary for Delhi State] then on what ground DMC [Delhi Minorities Commission] is saying this,” he said on Twitter.

Additional report by The Muslim News

 

[Archive Photo: Family members of Muslims, Amir, 27, Hashim,17 killed in Mustafabad, North Delhi anti-Muslim riots on 29 February, 2020. Photographer: Javed Sultan/AA]

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