In the charge sheet filed by Delhi police in the death of Intelligence Bureau official Ankit Sharma late last week, the police has asked for 'maximum exemplary punishment' for the accused 'to create sense of faith in rule of law in the mind of common citizens'.
The Quint has a copy of the charge sheet which pieces together how, according to the Delhi police, Ankit Sharma, who had allegedly gone to the spot to calm tensions between the mob, was singled out, attacked and killed by rioters.
The News of Ankit Sharma’s Disappearance
The death of Ankit Sharma came to light while the northeast Delhi riots were still ravaging parts of the capital in February 2020. His father, Ravinder Kumar said that Ankit had stepped out of their home around 5:00 pm on 25 February evening but never returned. His father filed a missing person's report on 26 February, but a few hours later, around 12:00 noon, Ankit's body had been found in the drain at Chand Bagh.
In the complaint filed at Dayalpur police station, his father details the timeline of those two crucial days.
Kumar said that Ankit had returned home and left the house on 25 February around 5:00 pm to get some things for the house, but never returned. His father went out looking for him, visited the various hospitals in the locality, waited overnight, and reached the police station the next morning to file a missing persons report. Even after the complaint was filed, his father was persistent in trying to locate his son. He kept asking anyone he thought would know, who Ankit was with. Eventually someone told him that some boys were killed in a mosque close to the Chand Bagh puliya and their bodies were dumped thereafter in the drains. With the help of authorities, Ankit's body was pulled out of the drain. He was rushed to GTB Hospital and declared brought dead. He had 51 injuries on his body. Putting to rest all claims of him being stabbed over 400 times.
His family welcomed the charge sheet on 3 June and thanked the authorities. His elder brother Ankur Sharma said, "Since my brother was killed and left in the drain, we have been waiting for justice. We want the rioters, who killed my brother, to be hung to death. I also request the central government to give my brother the status of a martyr."
Witnesses on Ankit’s Last Moments
Piecing together what had happened after Ankit had stepped out and when his body was dumped in the drain, the Delhi police has recorded, under Section 161 of CrPC, the statements of various public witnesses. Thirteen of whom they have named.
The witnesses have alleged that on 25 February Ankit had tried to mediate between the two crowds.
He moved ahead of the Hindu who were standing slightly away from suspended AAP councilor Tahir Hussain’s home, in a bid to pacify people from both sides. However, the rioters, which were around 20-25 in number and were holding stones, rods, lathi (sticks) and knives etc in their hand, came from the side of Chand Bagh Pulia, caught hold of Ankit and pulled him in.
This, the eyewitnesses have said, was at the instigation of Tahir Hussain from the front of Tahir Hussain’s house and dragged him to Chand Bagh Pulia and beat him to death. Then his body was thrown in the drain near Chand Bagh Pulia at 5.39 pm, according to video footage that the police has seized. This account was further corroborated by two witnesses, one who works at the parking lot in the area and another who sold chole bathure.
Ankit's body was found on 26 February in this drain around 12:00 noon.
Accused Identified in the Charge Sheet
The police has identified five men accused of killing Ankit Sharma. These are Haseen alias Salman, Sameer Khan, Sabir, Nazim and Kasim (real brothers).
A large portion of the charge sheet is regarding the police making their case against Haseen alias Salman. The police lists the following evidence against him :-
Motive of crime: The police has claimed that during interrogation, Haseen had heard about the killing of a 4-year-old Muslim boy by a Hindu, he got angry, took a knife and went with four others to Chand Bagh.
Interception of calls: A call that Haseen made to his friend and sister-in law, were intercepted by the police. In these calls, the police have alleged that Haseen accepted that he murdered a person and disposed the body in a drain
Weapon of offence found: The weapon of offence as well as blood stained clothes were recovered from Haseen's home.
Identification of accused: The police has cited several witnesses to have recognized the accused, including Haseen.
HOWEVER... THE PROBLEMS ARE :-
Interception of calls: While the police has said that calls were intercepted, the voice samples that have been sent to a lab to testify if it truly is his voice or not are to be awaited.
Weapon of offence: While the police claim the weapon of offence was recovered from the house of Haseen. They have been sent to a laboratory for comparison with the blood of the deceased. The report is still awaited.
Identification of accused: In the test identification parade (TIP) an eye-witness identified by the police failed to identity Haseen adding that he cannot identify the accused as there were too many people at the place of incident.
It remains unclear how many people have been identified in front of a judge till now.
According to the police the five men knew each other from before, either as friends or as relatives and it was Salman who led the police to the other four accused. The police has said there are other names that have come up during interrogation but they are yet to be arrested.
On the Involvement of Suspended AAP Councillor Tahir Hussain
Tahir, arrested in this particular case on 16 March 2020, has been implicated by the police to have led the mob and be instrumental in Ankit's death. There are two charge sheets filed naming Tahir as an accused, both regarding the violence in Chand Bagh.
Let’s go through the police allegations in this particular charge sheet which investigates the circumstances of Ankit’s death and Tahir’s lawyer, Javed Ali’s responses.
ALLEGATIONS ABOUT TAHIR LEADING THE MOB: The police said the accused Tahir Hussain was leading the mob from his house and also from the Masjid near Chand Bagh Pulia on 24 and 25 February 2020 and gave it a communal colour. He provoked and instigated the Muslims against Hindus saying that Hindu people had killed a number of Muslims and has set fire in their shops at Sherpur Chowk and let no Hindu go scot free. On his provocation/ instigation, the Muslims turned violent and became volatile on 24 and 25 February and began to burn shops and pelt stones and petrol bombs on the Hindu people and also targeted their houses. The uncontrolled mob turned into rioters and in the process of rioting caught hold of Ankit Sharma and dragged him to Chand Bagh Pulia and caused his death by inflicting injuries using sharp and blunt objects/ weapons and threw his dead body in the nala.
TAHIR’S LAWYER, JAVED ALI RESPONDS: First of all Tahir Hussain was not in the area on 25 February. He was escorted by the Delhi police out of the area. This is something that the police has also accepted in the past. Regarding the allegations of Tahir Hussain provoking and instigating a mob, why is there not one single evidence in the form of a video or an eyewitness showing that Tahir Hussain was leading a mob? When there are several videos of him being stuck on the terrace, how is there not any evidence of him being on the ground? There were at least a thousand people in the area right? This is merely an allegation which will not stand in court as it has no supporting evidence whatsoever.
ALLEGATIONS ABOUT TAHIR CALLING FOR HELP: The police has said that from the circumstances, it seemed that the accused persons/ rioters were known to Tahir Hussain and Tahir was present with the rioters at his house and he had deliberately made PCR calls to save his skin from legal complications in future.
JAVED ALI RESPONDS: This is a problematic thing to say when it is on record that Tahir was trying to leave the area on 24 February itself. He even made a plea to the police via a video as well as made calls to the police. Tahir was nomore in the building after being escorted out by Delhi police on the intervening night of 24 and 25 February night.
ALLEGATIONS ABOUT TAHIR GETTING HIS PISTOL: Tahir Hussain had got released his pistol on 22nd of February, 2020 from PS Khajuri Khas just one day prior to the commencing of riots. Even he could not give account of his 100 cartridges which he had got issued on his license. Only 64 live cartridges and 22 empty cartridges were recovered at his instance.
JAVED ALI RESPONDS: This is my client’s licensed pistol and it is his right to get it released from the police station whenever he wants. Are we saying that releasing your pistol from a police station is a crime? Saying that it was released is not enough, the police has to prove that anyone was injured or killed by the revolver in question, something they have not been able to do. On the contrary when the police asked my client for the gun, he handed it over to them.
ALLEGATIONS OF RECOVERING GLASS BOTTLES, BRICKS, MOLOTOVS ETC FROM TAHIR’S HOME: Recovery of several empty crates which holds glass bottles and several crates containing glass bottles having some liquid filled in them and their necks stuffed with clothes which were used/to be used as Molotov, large amount of bricks and stone pieces, sling shots from the house of accused Tahir Hussain again points towards his active and lead role in conspiracy and executing in these riots.
JAVED ALI RESPONDS: Even on the 24 of February, Tahir Hussain barely had control over his home and what was happening in the area. On top of that, he left in the intervening night of 24 and 25 February. If anything, this charge sheet shows that the Delhi police does not have a strong case against my client.