Opposition leaders meet President, seek probe over police role in Delhi riots

 thehindu.com  09/17/2020 10:10:16  2

Opposition leaders met President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday and raised questions about the role of the police during the February riots, besides expressing their lack of confidence in the probe of the incident.

In a joint memorandum, the leaders raised their concerns over the probe into the riots being conducted by the Delhi Police.

The Delhi Police has set up Special Investigation Teams (SIT) and its Special Cell is also probing the aspect of conspiracy behind the Delhi riots in which 53 people lost their lives.

There are, however, serious questions about the role played by the Delhi Police during the violence and also the manner in which the police is harassing and attempting to falsely implicate activists and young people who took part in the anti CAA/NRC/NPR movements as the perpetrators of violence.

Such a manufactured conspiracy theory has now begun to falsely implicate political leaders, it said.

The memorandum also criticised the police for the reference made to CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury citing disclosure statements by the accused.

This is a disturbing trend that raises serious questions over the manner of such investigations, the leaders said.

They also alleged that there are several publicly documented accounts and videos of police being complicit in the violence, directing mobs pelting stones or looking the other way when mobs were indulging in violence.

During the violence, a disturbing video emerged showing uniformed policemen assaulting young men lying injured on the road and forcing them to sing the national anthem while repeatedly beating them with lathis.

One of the men, Faizan, succumbed to his injuries a few days later, the memorandum said highlighting other such instances, including one in which they alleged the DCP stood quietly next to a BJP leader who was instigating violence against the protestors, warning that if they did not vacate the road, he would do it himself.

Despite several complaints being filed alleging involvement of senior police officials in the violence, including a DCP, additional commissioner and SHO, it appears no urgency has been accorded to identifying the policemen involved in the violence and ensuring that they are brought to book, it said.

It also pointed out that while the police was silent on the alleged hate speech of BJP leaders, and turned a blind eye towards the role of its own personnel during the violence, the probe appeared to be pursuing a line of inquiry criminalising the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and portraying them as a conspiracy which resulted in the riots in Delhi.

The entire investigation appears to be aimed at arriving at a pre-meditated theory about a conspiracy propounded by the Home Minister in Lok Sabha in March 2020, before any investigation had even begun into the riots, it said.

The memorandum also said that the ongoing investigation by the Delhi police did not inspire confidence as there were serious questions about the impartiality of the probe.

A credible and unbiased probe is crucial to restore public trust in the law and order machinery of the state. The investigation cannot be allowed to become a fishing and roving expedition aimed at causing a chilling effect on dissent and protest in the country.

We, therefore, urge you to call upon Government of India to institute an inquiry into this investigation under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, headed by sitting/retired judge(s), the memorandum said.

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