Hours after the Delhi Police submitted a 2,063-pages-long charge sheet on the Jahangirpuri violence that took place in April this year, a senior officer told The Quint, “From the beginning, we were exploring the connection of the accused with anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and anti-National Register of Citizens (NRC) protests of 2019 and 2020, as well as the northeast Delhi riots of 2020.”
The officer claimed that the Delhi Police’s investigation in the 16 April violence showed that “some of the accused would attend the anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests at Shaheen Bagh, and would hire buses and take people from Jahangirpuri to the protest site.”
The office claimed that while “the police have not found any direct involvement of the arrested accused – 31 Muslims and six Hindus – with the Delhi riots of 2020” in which 53 people were killed, “there was naarazgi (heartburn) over the riots.”
The officer also claimed that “the circumstances surrounding the Jahangirpuri violence did not look like it was a heat of the moment incident,” and that WhatsApp messages show accused “tried to instigate people.”
What Happened on 16 April in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri?
On 16 April, clashes broke out during a Hanuman Jayanti procession in northwest Delhi’s Jahangirpuri. An First Information Report (FIR) was filed at the Jahangirpuri police station after a complaint was received by Inspector Rajeev Ranjan, who was deployed in the area at the time.
In his statement, he claimed that the Hanuman Jayanti procession was underway peacefully but when it reached near C-block mosque, a man with about five more people started arguing with those taking part in the procession.
The police personnel in his statement claimed that stone-pelting erupted from both sides.
In the FIR, he said, “Police that was engaged in security for the religious procession separated the two groups but after some time clashes erupted between the two sides.”
The FIR was filed under sections of rioting, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, assault of public servant, among other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Apart from this, relevant sections of the Arms Act too were added to the FIR.
At least 37 people were arrested, and police claim that eight accused are still absconding.
'Arrested Accused Not Involved in Delhi Riots but Had Displeasure': Delhi Police
On Thursday,14 July afternoon, the Delhi Police released a statement regarding the charge sheet, in which it claimed that the Jahangirpuri incident “was in continuation of the protests against CAA and NRC of 2019 and 2020 in Shaheen Bagh, and the northeast Delhi riots of February 2020, which got further aggravated after Ram Navmi incidents on 10 April in different parts of the country.”
On being asked if any of the 37 arrested accused – 31 Muslims and six Hindus – are also accused or involved in the northeast Delhi riots of 2020 in which 53 people were killed, the officer said, “No, so far we have not found any involvement but there was naarazgi (heartburn) and displeasure over it. They had also expressed it on social media platforms.”
The officer claimed that “incriminating” WhatsApp messages sent by a “few accused” show that they were trying to “instigate people.”
“There are messages such as Ab kuch nahi kiya toh kuch nahi bachega (If we don't do anything now, nothing will remain),” claimed the officer.
The Quint’s Legal Editor, Vakasha Sachdev, said that the Delhi Police's claim of the Jahangirpuri violence being a “continuation” of the anti-CAA protests and Delhi Riots appears to be a way to try and tar the anti-CAA protests and drum up the negative connotations of the riots.
Sachdev said, “This is more about its general narrative-building, rather than any actual illegality. From what we're being told, the accused are not alleged to have done anything illegal at the time of the protests or the riots, just expressed concern over the plight of Muslims, and reportedly got angry about this. Unless there were discussions among them that there was a need for violence in connection with what happened earlier, this is little more than window dressing for this case.”
'Accused Stashed Bottles, Stones': Delhi Police
The officer claimed to The Quint that the Delhi Police has “strong video evidence of how glass bottles and stones were stashed by some accused.”
As per the charge sheet submitted by the Delhi Police, nine firearms, five live cartridges, and nine swords, among other things, have been recovered.
The officer said that “phones were not seized on the day of the violence due to which a lot of data is missing as it had been deleted. We are awaiting report from the FSL in the matter.”
The Quint’s Legal Editor, Vakasha Sachdev, said:
“An important claim by the police is that there were attempts to stockpile bottles and stones in advance. If the police have evidence to show this was for a premeditated attack on the procession, that may be useful for their case."
Sachdev added, "On the other hand, if the accused are able to show that they had an expectation of a need to defend themselves because of other recent incidents where such processions had led to confrontations, then they may be able to argue they did nothing wrong.”
The Delhi Police claimed that CCTV footage of at least 58 cameras installed by PWD was obtained and analysed.
In a note shared by the Delhi Police today, “34 viral videos and 56 videos from electronic media were collected and analysed, and 21 mobile phones were seized from the accused.”
Soon after the incident, the case was transferred from the local police to the Crime Branch, and the police said that 13 teams were deployed to verify background details of the accused, do technical analysis, collect viral videos, analyse CCTV footage, and probe the financial aspect and conspiracy angle.”