Two days after the 24-25 February Delhi violence, the charred body of 20-year-old Dilbar Negi was recovered from the second floor of a sweet shop godown at North East Delhi’s Brijpuri.
Delhi Police, in its chargesheet filed last week, said Dilbar Negi “was burnt alive” when a “Muslim mob” targeted shops and properties of Hindus near the Brijpuri-Shiv Vihar-Mustafabad crossing on 24 February.
The police said, “Dilbar Negi’s murder was pre-planned. The fact that rioters had arranged for lathis, petrol bombs from before and fixed a catapult atop Rajdhani Public School clealry show their intentions. Their aim was to break law and order and disrupt communal harmony.”
The charge sheet, accessed by The Quint, details the timeline from when Dilbar Negi went missing to when his body was found and what exactly happened at the three-way crossing, that was one of the most badly-hit areas during the violence.
Timeline as Given in Charge Sheet:
Dilbar Negi, originally from Uttarakhand’s Pauri Garhwal region, was an employee at Anil Sweet shop, owned by one Anil Pal. On 24 February, three of the last people to interact with Negi were Anil and two of his other employees - Shyam Singh (who belongs to the same home district as Negi) and Mahesh.
Acoording to their statements, recorded by Delhi police under Section 161 of the CrPC, this is how the chain of events allegedly followed on 24 February.
- 2 PM: Dilbar Negi goes to the godown, adjacent to the sweet shop and owned by Anil Pal, at A29 Chaman Park, to take rest after lunch. Negi had come to Delhi six months before the violence and used to live in the same godown after he started working at the sweet shop.
- 2.30-3 PM: A mob of around 250- 300 Muslim men from Mustafabad side starts gathering with lathis, empty bottles etc. Sensing tension, Anil shuts the shutters of his shop and hides inside with his workers for an hour. "The riotous mob was pelting stones at our shops, beating on the shutters with sticks. We could hear heavy and continuous stone pelting happening outside. They were raising insinuating slogans against Hindus,” Anil Pal was quoted by Police.
- 4- 4.30 PM: Anil Pal and his helpers escape from the shop and goes to the terrace of a dairy shop, situated in the lane opposite the godown. The dairy shop is owned by Anil’s brother, who was also hiding in the shop. From the terrace, Anil’s nephew Ankit captures videos and photos of a mob atop the sweet shop godown and Rajdhani Public school. “We saw the mob was setting fire to selected Hindu houses that were adjacent to the sweet shop godown and the smoke had reached the building where Negi was stuck,” Shyam Singh was quoted as saying.
- 6.40-6.45 PM: Anil says he saw a mob entering his godown with stones and petrol bombs. He could recognise one of the people from the mob, Shahnawaz aka Shanu, who worked at a local Beedi shop in the area.
- 7-7.30 PM: Anil, his family members and their workers leave from the spot for their respective homes. After a while, when Anil asked about Negi’s wherabouts to Shyam Singh, he was told that Negi was stuck in the godown since afternoon and there has been no information about him.
- 8.30-9 PM: Mahesh speaks to Dilbar Negi twice on the phone. Negi tells him that he is stuck at the godown and there are a lot of people going up and down the building and he was very scared.
- 9.30 PM: Dilbar Negi’s phone was switched off when Shyam Singh dialled his number to enquire about him.
- 25 February: The violence was still raging. Neither Anil nor any of the other acquaintances dared to go to the godown.
- 26 February: The charred body of Dilbar Negi is found from the second floor of the sweet shop godown.
- 28 February: Dilbar Negi’s brother Devender Singh, Shyam Singh and Anil go to GTB Hospital morgue with policemen to identify the body.
Accused Named in the Charge Sheet, Evidences Cited Against Them
The police have identified 12 accused, most of them below 30 years of age, related to the burning of Anil sweet shop and subsequently the murder of Dilbar Negi. They are:
- Mohd Shahnawaz aka Shanu (27) - Prime accused
- Mohd Faizal (20)
- Azad (25)
- Asraf Ali (29)
- Rashid aka Monu (20)
- Shahrukh (24)
- Mohd Shoaib aka Chutwa (22)
- Parvez (34)
- Rashid aka Raja (22)
- Md Tahir (38)
- Salman (20)
- Sonu Saifi (30)
The police has alleged that the mob was led by Shahnawaz, a local beedi shop owner. However, police said they are yet to question and charge sheet many other suspects whose names have come up during the investigation.
Among those charge sheeted, the primary evidences cited by the police against them are CCTV footage, eye witnesses accounts and mobile locations at the time of the violence.
During interrogation, the police have claimed, each of these accused have said that their motive to create violence “and show the prowess of Muslims over Hindus” stemmed from “misinformation on CAA”. Like in the chronology mentioned in each of the charge sheets filed by Delhi Police on the February violence, the police in this particular charge sheet too, has linked the motive of the accused to create violence to “CAA protests” and the “Jaffrabad road blockade.”
Many Gaps in the Charge Sheet?
- The police have cited CCTV footage from the scene of the violence where at least 7 of the 12 accused - Azad, Md Faisal, Shahrukh, Mohd Shoaib aka Chhutwa, Rashid aka Raja, Mohd Tasir and Salman - were spotted. But, none of the camera recordings, according to the charge sheet, is from the time when Dilbar Negi was possibly murdered.
Dilbar Negi’s last phone conversation was traced to a call made to another sweet shop employee Mahesh at 9.07 PM on 24 February. The last camera recording that the police has been able to retrieve so far is till 4.35 PM on the same day.
- The police has said their phone locations show they were present in the area during the violence but has not specified if they were also present during the time of the murder. Shahnawaz’s lawyer, Shameem Akhtar said, “The police has mentioned in the charge sheet that Shahnawaz was present at the spot during the time of murder but in the documents presented by the police has no details of his location. The cops are yet to provide me with the details but Shahnawaz had left the area after his own shop was burnt by a rioter on the same day around 6 PM. This also raises questions on the witnesses the police have cited in the case.”
- Secondly, Anil Pal has been cited as an eye witness to the murder of Dilbar Negi. According to his own statement recorded with the police, he left the scene of the violence at 7- 7.30 PM. A lawyer who is defending another accused, who wished to be not named, told The Quint, “How is Anil Pal cited as a witness to the murder when he was not even present there at the spot? The next he came to the godown was on 26 February when the police recovered a charred body from the building.” However, on Shahnawaz being present at the spot during the time when Dilbar Negi’s phone activity was last traced, the police have cited two other witnesses who claimed they saw Shahnawaz enter the sweet shop godown with petrol bombs.
- Thirdly, there is a passing mention of a Hindu mob silmultaneously present in the area on that day during the violence. But while it has been described in detail about how a Muslim mob gathered in the area, used the terraces of the tallest buildings to throw stones and petrol bombs, set afire houses etc, there is hardly a one-line mention of the role of any Hindus present in the area which was one of the worst affected in the violence.