Delhi Riots: ‘Witness’ Against BJP Councillor Claims Intimidation
“Kanhaiya Lal said things like ‘kill Muslims, loot their houses,” alleges Nisar Ahmed, ‘eyewitness’ in Delhi riots
"I could see Kanhaiya Lal who was exhorting inflammatory speeches...and he said things like, 'Come together all the Hindus, come out of your homes, support the CAA and send these Muslims out of Bhagirathi Vihar Colony, kill the Muslims, capture their houses, loot their houses."
This is the account provided by Nisar Ahmed, a resident of Bhagirathi Vihar, regarding the alleged involvement of BJP councillor Kanhaiya Lal in the Northeast Delhi riots in February. Ahmed is a ready-made garments trader whose shop in Bhagirathi Vihar was looted during the violence.
Ahmed has now filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court alleging intimidation as well as seeking the registration of an FIR for the attack on his shop during the violence.
On 22 June, The Quint had reported on a police complaint alleging that Kanhaiya Lal led the mob at Bhagirathi Vihar during the riots. The report has also been added in Ahmed’s petition at the High Court as an annexure.
Allegations of Intimidation
According to the plea filed by Ahmed through Advocates MR Shamshad and Aditya Samaddar in the Delhi High Court:
- Ahmed's “sister and her family, who continue to reside in Bhagirathi Vihar, are being pressured by some local residents who allegedly committed murder, arson and loot, to get the him to take back or deny his complaints”.
- “All other accused of other FIRs relating to the Delhi Riots, 2020 who reside in the area are being informed that the Petitioner (Ahmed) has taken their names in his complaint. These individuals, then got other local residents known to the Petitioner to call him and exude pressure to take back or deny his Complaints and Statements.”
Ahmed has accused Kanhaiya Lal of being behind these alleged efforts at intimidation.
Providing examples of how this alleged intimidation is taking place, the petition claims:
- 2 April: A person called Gagan claiming to be with the Delhi Police, called up Ahmed and made him speak to BJP councillor Kanhaiya Lal, who allegedly asked why has named one 'Mowgli' in his complaint. He began receiving threatening calls after that.
- 7 June: A person called up Ahmed and spoke "in a gravely threatening manner" and asked why Ahmed had named him in the complaint. Ahmed says that this person's name wasn't part of his complaint and that this was just part of the intimidation tactics.
- 21 June: 'Gagan' calls Ahmed again and tells him to "ensure that 'Mowgli' is not part of the complaint".
- On 24 June: One of the people named by Ahmed in the complaint went to his sister's house to put pressure on him to withdraw his complaint. Ahmed says that his sister and her family now fear for their lives.
Nisar Ahmed on What Happened During Delhi Riots
Here are some excerpts from the narration given by Nisar Ahmed in his writ petition:
- At about 7:30 pm (on 24 February), as it got darker, the slogans being broadcast from the mic changed to statements like “ka**o ko bhagao yahan se” and “maaro in mullo ko”.
- The small crowd gathered initially had swelled to a large crowd of about 500-600 people. Random passersby started to be stopped and their religion ascertained. If it was found that the individual was Muslim by way of identification documents or by making him pull down his pants, he was cut down with swords and agricultural implements.
- Some managed to escape death but were brutally beaten up with pipes and lathis as they pleaded for their lives. The women were not spared either. Of the very few women who were outside, any woman wearing a burqa or who otherwise looked Muslim was killed with swords. The bodies of the deceased were thrown into the Bhagirathi Vihar Nala.
- The Petitioner (Ahmed) dialled 100 from his mobile phone continuously. Whenever his call was answered, he was told that the local police station had been informed and that police was on its way. Not a single police officer showed up.
- At about 8 pm the genocide also took a turn towards open loot and arson.
- Three people identified by Ahmed came to his house at about 9:30 am with a large crowd of about 200 people. One of them started to break the gate of his house. Another used a crowbar to pry open and raise the shutter of the petitioner's shop and godown of readymade garments of which he is also a supplier.
- All the stock worth about 10 lakhs was looted. His three motorcycles, an Enfield Bullet, a Bajaj Platina and a Hero Splendor were dragged out into the road and set ablaze.
- A large heavy trunk containing his daughter in law’s jewellery and other personal effects from her marriage to the petitioner's son was also looted. The trunk also contained jewellery and gold that the petitioner was saving for his daughter’s marriage.
- Once having looted the ground floor, the crowd started to devise ways to get to the other floors of the house. The first and second floor could be accessed through the stairs at the road level but the third floor was accessible only through another steel gate on the stairs.
- The petitioner's family ran upstairs to save their lives and bolted the steel gate on the third floor. Thereafter, before the mob could get to them, the petitioner and his family assisted each other down from the back portion of the third floor. A sympathetic neighbour set a ladder for them. The petitioner and his family went hiding from one house to another and finally were escorted out from the area to the main road by the said sympathetic Hindu neighbours at about 3 pm. His house was completely looted and anything that remained was set alight.
The ordeal for Ahmed didn’t end there. His “mentally differently-abled brother who couldn’t be rescued from the house on 25/02/2020, was still not traceable”. He was traced only after three days.
Ahmed filed a complaint but was intimidated to take it back. No FIR was registered regarding the attack on his home and shop, until he filed the writ petition.
Police and Court’s Response
- In response to Ahmed’s plea, the Delhi High Court ruled that he should be provided the three charge sheets in which he is a witness.
- The police responded that Ahmed’s complaint has been registered and combined with FIR 78/2020 in which the complainant is one Aas Mohammad.
- The court also directed the police to provide a status report of FIR 78/2020, which now includes Nisar's complaint.
- In the status report, the police claimed that one Dinesh Yadav alias Michale, who had been named by Ahmed in his complaint, has been arrested.
- However, Ahmed’s lawyer MR Shamshad pointed out that none of the people named in the complaint have been included in FIR 78. Shamshad has also said that he will approach an “appropriate authority” to request that Ahmed be provided protection, given the threats he is being subjected to.
- “Nisar’s complaint is much more serious as it names people accused of rioting, instigation for murder and loot. This mob was involved in murders in the area. His complaint has been tagged with a simple FIR which doesn’t name the accused (as stated by Nisar). The police has filed three separate charge sheets against other accused, ignoring those named by Nisar. This raises questions about the investigation process. We will take this up in courts soon,” Advocate Shamshad told The Quint.
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