Delhi Riots: Cops Committed Atrocities & Helped Mob, Says Amnesty

“Delhi police was complicit in the violence that took place in February”: Amnesty International India.

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Politics
6 min read
“Delhi police was complicit in the violence that took place in February”: Amnesty International India. Image used for representational purposes.
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“The Delhi police personnel were complicit and an active participant in the violence that took place in Delhi in February 2020, yet in the last six months not a single investigation has been opened into the human rights violations committed by the Delhi police”.

This is what Amnesty International India has observed in its investigative report on the Delhi riots that took place in February 2020.

The report says that contrary to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s claim that the Delhi Police did a “commendable job,” the information gathered by Amnesty reveals a pattern of human rights violations and rampant impunity.

“It is shocking that there has been no attempt by the MHA to hold the Delhi police accountable till now. This ongoing state sponsored impunity that the Delhi police enjoy sends across the message that the police can commit grave human rights violations and evade accountability. They are a law unto themselves.”
Avinash Kumar, Executive Director, Amnesty International India

Avinash Kumar, the head of Amnesty further said, “Impunity sends the message to the police and politicians who advocate for violence in their speeches that they can get away with committing human rights violations in the future as well. This state-sponsored impunity must end”.

The report is based on the testimony of several survivors of the northeast Delhi violence. Here are some its key findings.

‘Police’s Complicity’

  • In collaboration with Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab, Amnesty India’s report analysed and verified various videos that were uploaded by eyewitnesses on social media. After the riots, Amnesty International India visited the locations where the videos were shot and interviewed people on the ground.
  • One of the people interviewed by Amnesty is Kismatun’s whose son Faizan was beaten up by the police and forced to chant the national anthem. He later succumbed to his injuries. Kismatun said:
“I went to the police station along with my son’s photograph. I showed them his photograph and asked if he was there and they said yes. I asked them if they would let me see him and if they would let him go. The policeman said no.”
Kismatun, mother of Faizan
Kismatun, the mother of Faizan who succumbed to injuries after being beaten by the police.
Kismatun, the mother of Faizan who succumbed to injuries after being beaten by the police.
(Photo: The Quint)
  • Amnesty also verified the time, date and location of a video of the Khajuri Khas-Wazirabad road where the police could be seen standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a mob, pelting stones and firing tear gas shells. This was near the shrine of Chand Baba Syed that was attacked by rioters.
  • Amnesty spoke to Bhure Khan, whose house was set on fire in the vicinity. Khan said, “They were raising slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’. First they set my car and motorcycle on fire. My brother was hit by a stone. We realised that the police were hand in glove with the rioters so I told my family that it is best to leave everything and run.”
  • Dr MA Anwar of Al Hind Hospital, where a large number of the injured people were taken, told Amnesty that he had requested the Delhi police to provide security to ambulances so that they can take the injured and dead to other hospitals but he received no help from the cops.

‘Police Failed to Stop Violence’

Amnesty spoke to both Hindus and Muslims from the area, who claimed that the police failed to stop the violence, even when called upon to help.

  • Moinuddin, a riot survivor whose shop in Maujpur was burnt down by rioters, told Amnesty, “I saw Kapil Mishra give an inflammatory speech. After his speech, the public which was listening to him started gathering sticks and other weapons. I got scared and shut my shop. Within hours, I came to know that my shop was set on fire”. The police was present when Kapil Mishra gave his speech.
  • Another riot survivor, Kamlesh Uppal, also recounted her horror of calling the police in vain.
“The mob broke the locks and burnt my house. We were living there for the last 22 years and they didn’t leave anything. We tried calling the police, we thought they would come but it took them more than three days to come to our locality.”
Kamlesh Uppal, riot survivor
  • Shabnam, a riot survivor who lost her house to the arson during the riots said, “My husband called the police, my father called them, several times. We told them our address, but no one came to our help. When our house was burnt, even then we called the police, the police said, ‘How much will you disturb us?’”
  • In two separate incidents, survivors Shahida and Mohammad Imran made several calls to the police but got the same response: “You want Azadi, here take your Azadi now”.
  • Roop Singh, caretaker of DRP Convent School in Shiv Vihar, also said that he received no help despite several calls to the police when the school was being attacked.
Ajit Doval visiting the violence-hit areas of northeast Delhi.
Ajit Doval visiting the violence-hit areas of northeast Delhi.
(Photo: PTI)
  • The Amnesty report also questions the claim that the violence stopped once National Security Adviser Ajit Doval visited violence affected areas on 26 February. According to Babu Khan, whose two sons were killed soon after Doval’s visit, “Ajit Doval told us that we had nothing to worry and that the Central Reserve Police Force had been deployed. The [mainstream] media played that up in a big way. My sons were too young to assess the situation....When they were coming back home the next day, the rioters made my sons lie down on a bike and beat them on their head and face. There were deep wounds. There is no count of the number of times they were hit on their heads with a sword. It was the handiwork of at least 10-15 people”.

‘Torture During Detention’

Amnesty interviewed several who were subjected to torture in custody, most of them were Muslims.

  • “While I was on my way home, the police stopped me and asked me whether I’m a Hindu or a Muslim? When I said I was a Muslim, they took me to the Dayalpuri police station in a van. There were about 25 other people in the van. They kept saying “you want azaadi (freedom)” and hitting us. We were tortured for the next four days. They beat me and others with sticks and belts,” said a survivor.
  • Amnesty also interviewed the brother of a riot survivor who lost both his eyes to a bullet allegedly fired by the police. He said: “The police had tortured him in custody. We don’t want to pursue any investigation against the police. What will happen anyway?”
  • Amnesty also spoke to Nargis Saifi, wife of Khalid Saifi, who has been arrested in connection with the riots and charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. She has alleged that Saifi was tortured in custody. “When I went to meet my husband, I found him sitting on a wheelchair… He told me that he had been brutally tortured by Delhi police,” she said.
(United Against Hate activist Khalid Saifi distributing Kheer on Eid)
(United Against Hate activist Khalid Saifi distributing Kheer on Eid)
(United Against Hate Facebook page)

Harassment After the Riots

  • Shabnam, a riot survivor, told Amnesty: “My father was picked up by the police on 9 March by the Crime Branch around 4 to 5 PM. He was taken to the Khureji Khas Police Station. They asked him to sign on a blank sheet of paper. My father asked them to first write something on the sheet. But they persisted. He did not sign the blank paper. They had seized my father’s phone and so we were unable to contact him. We were scared for his life and couldn’t do anything besides crying”.
  • Nizammudin, a resident from Chaman Park said, “The police barged into our homes when I was not there. My wife and two children were at home when they frisked all our belongings. Later, they picked me up and took me to the police station. They told me to sign on a blank paper and said that I should come to the police station whenever they call”.
  • A lawyer speaking to Amnesty on the condition of anonymity said, “We have shared the videos with the police where the rioters can be identified easily. But the police are doing nothing. It is clear that the majority of those being arrested by the police are Muslims....When the police target a community like this then the mutual trust between the communities gets broken”.

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