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Intimidation and Arrests by Delhi Police in a Skewed Investigation on North Delhi Communal Violence of February 2020

Delhi Police Must Stop its Witch Hunt - Statements by Concerned Citizens by the Communist Parties, by Prof Apoorvanand, by JNU Teachers Association, Human Rights Forum & PUCL | 13-14 Sept 2020

14 September

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sacw.net compilation of selected statements regarding the North Delhi Communal Violence of February 2020 and the naming and intimidation of prominent citizens and the arrests conducted by Delhi Police

[1] Urgent Press Statement - Concerned Citizens
[2] Text of Statement by the Communist Party of India
[3] Statement by Communist Party of India (Marxist)
[4] Statement issued by The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
[5] Statement by Prof Apoorvanand
[6] Statement by JNUTA on the Arrest of Former Student Umar Khalid - 14 Sept 2020
[7] Statement from Human Rights Forum - 14 Sept 2020
[8] PUCL - Representation to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi about nature of Investigation by Delhi Police into incidents of violence in NE Delhi in February 2020
[9] Criminalising and Silencing Dissent: Delhi Police Investigations into the February Violence - Press Statement by Concerned Citizens at the Press Club of India, New Delhi | Sept 16, 2020

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[1] Urgent Press Statement

Sept 14, 2020

WE CONDEMN THE ARREST OF UMAR KHALID, ONE OF OUR BRAVEST YOUNG VOICES WHO SPOKE FOR THE CONSTITUTIONAL VALUES OF OUR COUNTRY
WE DEMAND HIS IMMEDIATE RELEASE & ASK DELHI POLICE TO STOP THIS WITCHHUNT

As citizens deeply committed to Constitutional values, we condemn the arrest of Umar Khalid who has been subjected to a malicious investigation targeting peaceful anti-CAA protestors. He has been booked under several charges including UAPA, sedition and conspiracy for murder. With deep anguish we have no doubt in saying that this investigation is not about the violence in February 2020 in the national capital but on the completely peaceful and democratic protests across the country against the unconstitutional CAA.

Umar Khalid was one of the hundreds of voices that spoke up in favour of the Constitution across the country during these anti-CAA protests, always foregrounding the need for peaceful, non-violent and democratic means. Umar Khalid has emerged as a strong and powerful voice of young Indians in favour of the Constitution and of democracy. The repeated attempts by the Delhi police to implicate him in a number of fictitious cases of conspiracy for the Delhi violence are part of a brazen attempt to try to suppress his voice of dissent. It is very significant that of the 20 arrested, 19 are under the age of 31. Of which 17 have been charged under the draconian UAPA and have been imprisoned on charges of a conspiracy for the Delhi violence whereas those who actually instigated and participated in the violence has not been touched. Of the ones incarcerated, five are women, except for one all are also students.

The essence of our democracy is the freedom of conscience and the strength of any country is in its young minds. We strongly condemn the targeting of Umar Khalid and other young activists, both women and men.

The right to life, is not just to be allowed to eat, live and breathe; it is to live without fear, with dignity and with freedom of expression, including dissent. The nature of investigation has been mainly to silence democratic voices and instill fear, and this is precisely the objective of this witch hunt.

Given the precedence of physical attacks in court premises in the instance of Kanhaiya Kumar, and the attempt on Umar’s life in 2018 by gunmen in public, it is imperative that all measures are taken to avoid any threat to his life and safety so long as he remains in the custody of the state / judiciary.

It has also been observed by the court that the media is peddling false information and selective leakages in an attempt to conduct a full-fledged media trial and influence the course of justice. This must cease immediately. If we let law take its own course, we are confident that justice shall prevail.

Signed,

1. Saeed Mirza, filmmaker
2. Syeda Hameed, ex-Planning Commission
3. Arundhati Roy, Writer
4. TM Krishna, Artist
5. Ramchandra Guha, Historian
6. Prashant Bhushan, Senior Advocate
7. P. Sainath, Senior Journalist
8. Brinda Karat, CPI (M)
9. Jignesh Mewani, MLA Gujarat
10. Kavita Krishnan (AIPWA)
11. Mihir Desai, Senior Advocate
12. Aakar Patel, Journalist & Activist
13. Biraj Patnaik, Public Policy expert
14. Darab Farooqi, Writer and lyricist
15. Farah Naqvi, Writer and Activist
16. Githa Hariharan, Author and Activist
17. Harsh Mander, Author & Activist
18. Jayaram Venkatesan, Social Activist, Chennai
19. Kavita Srivastava, Activist
20. Navsharan Singh, independent researcher
21. ND Pancholi, Senior Lawyer
22. Prabir Purakayastha
23. Prof. Atul Sood, JNU
24. Prof. Nandini Sundar, Delhi University
25. Prof. Apoorvanand, Delhi University
26. Prof. Jayati Ghosh, JNU
27. Prof. Mary John
28. Prof. Prabhat Patnaik
29. Prof. Satish Deshpande
30. Prof. Surajit Mazumdar, JNU
31. Prof. Ayesha Kidwai, JNU
32. Prof. D. K. Lobiyal, JNU
33. Purwa Bhardwaj, Educationist
34. Ravi Kiran Jain, PUCL
35. Shuddhabrata Sengupta (Raqs Media Collective)
36. V Suresh, PUCL

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[2] Text of Statement by the Communist Party of India

New Delhi

September 14, 2020

Press Release

CPI Condemns Naming of Yechury and others in Delhi Riots Case

The National Secretariat of the Communist Party of India has issued today (September 14, 2020) the following statement condemning the naming of Yechury and other prominent activists in the Delhi riots case investigation:
The National Secretariat of the Communist Party of India strongly condemns the naming of CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, Prof. Jayati Ghosh, Prof. Apoorvanand and Producer Rahul Roy in the supplementary chargesheet prepared by the Delhi Police in February riots in North-East Delhi. The naming of these prominent personalities at the behest of the Union Home Ministry is blatant violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution.
While the Delhi Police is refusing to take any action and file any FIR against Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and others belonging to BJP who made hate speeches and instigated violence, same Delhi Police is continuing to interrogate activists including women activists, who went there to express solidarity with the anti-CAA protestors.
The Party feels the conspiratorial moves to suppress dissent and differing views are part of RSS-BJP combine’s intolerant and authoritarian ways of governance.
The Party appeals to all the progressive, democratic and secular forces to rise against such authoritarian and onslaughts against democracy by giving a proper rebuff to the continuing suppressive moves.

(Roykutty)
Office Secretary

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[3] Statement by Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Condemn These Arrests

Date: Monday, September 14, 2020

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The arrest of Umar Khalid under the provisions of the draconian UAPA is condemnable. This comes following the detention, under UAPA, of Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita (JNU), Ishrat Jahan, a former Councillor of the Congress Party, Jamia students Meeran Haider also an RJD youth leader, Asif Tanha, Safoora Zagar and Gulfisha Fatima and Shifr-ul-Rehman.

Top BJP leaders who made hate speeches and incited violence are protected by the Central Government, while young peaceful protesters against the CAA are being targeted and arrested citing the utterly manufactured version of the country’s Home Ministry and the Delhi Police linking anti-CAA protests with communal violence. The Central Government must stop the practice of the Special Branch summoning anti-CAA activists for questioning and trying to coerce them into implicating those targeted by the Home Ministry and the Police.

The use of UAPA is to block the normal processes of justice by which they would have been out on bail since, as many of the lower courts have mentioned, there is not a shred of evidence against any of them for inciting violence. The arrests constitute an assault on the constitutional guarantees of the democratic right to dissent.

The CPI(M) has opposed the CAA-NRC-NPR from the beginning both in Parliament and outside in multiple protests throughout the country. It reiterates its strong opposition. It expresses its solidarity with all those facing the repression of the Central Government. It demands the release of all those arrested under UAPA in the Delhi communal violence case.

Recent developments point to the urgent necessity of an independent investigation, under a retired judge, into the causes of the violence as against the biased investigation being conducted by the Delhi police under Union Home Ministry’s guidance.

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[4] September 13, 2020

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued
the following statement:

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

Strongly protest this criminalising of peaceful protests in defence of Indian Constitution

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is shocked by the brazenness with which the Delhi Police, acting under Home Minister, Amit Shah has tried to implicate prominent political leadership, academics, cultural personalities and activists in connection with the horrific communal violence in North East Delhi in February. No condemnation is strong enough for this act of crude partisanship and vengeance.

In scripting its own narrative of the organised communal violence, it is amply clear that BJP-RSS has gone about to portray Delhi riots being a “deep-rooted conspiracy” by anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters. In the latest sequel, the Delhi police have dragged in Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, renowned economist Jayati Ghosh, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav and documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy, among other prominent personalities, as persons who had, encouraged the protesters as part of a ‘plan’.

The names of these eminent personalities have emerged in the supplementary charge sheet filed by the Delhi police for FIR 50/20 in connection with the alleged role they played in motivating anti-CAA-NRC protesters. This is in line with the growing pattern of the most blatant abuse of the Police and other central agencies like CBI, NIA, ED to frame prominent opponents and demonise them. The pattern includes slapping of provisions of draconian NSA, UAPA and Sedition Act to harass and incarcerate those who vigorously oppose such blatant misuse of powers by the government contrary to that as ordained by the Constitution. The arbitrary conduct of the NIA in the Bhima-Koregaon case and expanding its ambit is telling commentary of this course. Similarly, the dropping of the provisions of NSA and granting of bail to Dr Kafeel Khan by Allahabad High Court has graphically underlined this. Overall, this outlines a severe onslaught on democracy and the Constitution.

The CPI(M) condemns this obnoxious action by the Delhi Police to further the narrative of its political masters and urges the government to desist from such acts of criminalising peaceful political protests. The CPI(M) also strongly demands unconditional release of political prisoners who are incarcerating in cases under trumped up charges. The Polit Bureau urges its units all over the country and appeals to all the parties, organisations and individuals who are committed to democracy and values of the Constitution, to protest this dastardly attack on democracy.

For CPI(M) Central Committee Office

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[5] Statement by Prof Apoorvanand

September 13, 2020

It has been brought to my notice that a supplementary Chargesheet filed in connection with FIR 50/2020 has certain disclosure statements by accused in custody, that mention my name, together with that of Rahul Roy, Umar Khalid, Jayati Ghosh , Sita Ram Yechuri and Yogendra Yadav. These names are mentioned in uncorroborated statements attributed to accused who are in custody, where it is claimed that they provided support in organising the anti- CAA protests.

The supplementary CS proclaims that the accused persons were ’continously poisoning the minds of common people against the CAA/ NRC.’ This is the government’s political position; surprisingly being parroted in the supplementary CS as a legal offence.

Although FIR 50/2020 was registered in connection with the death, from gunshot injury, of one Amaan, the investigation seems to have focussed on deligitimizing the protests and in trying to make the protestors indirectly responsible for Amaan’s death.

While I am not made accused, it is very surprising that the police should even accuse three young women, without any basis, of having murdered a 17 year old boy, Amaan. It would seem that the accused women are not directly linked to the murder, but the allegation is that they instigated some unknown shooter. The investigation has not revealed who shot at Amaan, but it insists that whoever it was, was instigated by the anti-CAA stance of the accused individuals.

It is also pertinent that on September 1st, the Delhi High Court, while hearing a bail application by Devangana Kalita, has categorically held that the police has not been able to give any evidence of any incendiary speech by her. The court also said that the statements of the witnesses were produced belatedly, as an afterthought by the police.

The supplementary CS does not improve upon the legal case, but only seems to be furthering the political agenda of discrediting the protestors, and uses all our names as part of the discrediting exercise. Their act of having planned a protest is being treated as a conspiracy to violence, in which me, along with others, are projected as having abetted that cause, without any basis in law or facts.

We are still waiting for the Delhi police to start investigation to find out the truth behind the actual act of the February violence. It needs to stop its exercise of criminalising the anti CAA protests which were perfectly legitimate act of citizenship.

[6] Statement by JNUTA on the Arrest of Former Student Umar Khalid - 14 Sept 2020

Statement by JNUTA on September 14, 2020

[7] Statement from Human Rights Forum

Press Release

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) condemns the arrest of activist with United Against Hate and former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid late last night by the Delhi Police Special Cell. He has been charged under the obnoxious Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for alleged involvement in the violence in North East Delhi during February this year. HRF believes the charges against Umar Khalid to be completely fabricated with evidence being sought to be systematically manufactured.
Over several months, the Delhi police has been relentlessly targeting and incarcerating anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) activists, most of them young, under plainly bogus charges. While organisations and individuals working for communal harmony are being vilified and booked in false cases, the real instigators and conspirators of the brutal violence this February continue to stalk Delhi roaming scot-free. They clearly enjoy State patronage, many of them being active functionaries of the BJP and its affiliates.

The ideological progeny of MS Golwalkar and KB Hedgewar who are presently ruling us imagine they can recreate our nation into an aggressive and deeply undemocratic power-mongering polity based on a hierarchical and monolithic society. Their project is bound to fail. In the words of Umar Khalid: “The rulers of India have lost one battle – that is the battle over young minds. They came to bury us; but they didn’t know we were seeds.”

Umar Khalid is among the finest of our Republic’s young. He has consistently evoked - in his speeches, writings and vibrant activism - a peaceful and non-violent defense of the best values of our Constitution and of the freedom to dissent and live without fear. His political life is marked by deep compassion for the poor and the marginalized and he has always espoused the values of equality, justice and dignity.
HRF demands that Umar Khalid and all anti-CAA activists arrested by the Delhi police be set free immediately and the farcical charges against them be dropped. We call upon democratic forces to build a strong campaign for repeal of the UAPA and scrapping of the Sedition law.

VS Krishna S Jeevan Kumar HRF AP&TS Coordination Committee members

14-9-2020, Visakhapatnam

[8] PUCL - Representation to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi about nature of Investigation by Delhi Police into incidents of violence in NE Delhi in February 2020 http://www.sacw.net/article14436.html

[9] India: Criminalising and Silencing Dissent: Delhi Police Investigations into the February Violence - Press Statement by Concerned Citizens at the Press Club of India, New Delhi | Sept 16, 2020 http://www.sacw.net/article14438.html

[SEE ALSO:

1.) Julio Ribeiro hauls Delhi Police chief over the coals Asks why Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma have not been arraigned before the Courts of law? https://sabrangindia.in/article/julio-ribeiro-hauls-delhi-police-chief-over-coals

2.) An Open Letter to the Police Commissioner, Delhi, regarding the flawed investigation into the Delhi riots, February 2020

Shri S.N.Shrivastava, IPS
Commissioner of Police, Delhi
cp.snshrivastava at delhipolice.gov.in

Dear Shri Shrivastava,

We, the undersigned, are retired officers of the Indian Police Service and belong to a larger group of retired officers belonging to different services and known as Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG). Mr Julio Ribeiro is a living legend of an IPS officer (as one publication put it) and is one of the most valued members of the CCG. We would like to endorse the letter he has written to you regarding the flawed investigation into the Delhi riots.

In addition, we would like to say that it indeed is a sad day in the history of Indian police that investigations and challans submitted in the court by Delhi Police in connection with riots of this year are widely believed to be partisan and politically motivated. It pains all those police officers, serving as well as retired, who believe in upholding the rule of law and our Constitution.

We were sad to note that one of your Special Commissioners had tried to influence investigations claiming resentment among Hindus over the arrest of some rioters belonging to their community. Such a majoritarian attitude in the police leadership leads to a travesty of justice for the victims of violence and their family members belonging to minority communities. This would further mean that real culprits of the violence belonging to majority community are likely to go scot free.

What pains us more is implicating all those who spoke and joined protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). They were simply exercising their fundamental rights of freedom of speech and peaceful protests as guaranteed by the Constitution. Basing investigations on “disclosures” without concrete evidence violates all principles of fair investigation. While implicating leaders and activists, who expressed their views against CAA, all those who instigated violence and are associated with the ruling party have been let off the hook.

Such investigation will only make people lose faith in democracy, justice, fairness and the Constitution. A dangerous thought that may ultimately shake the pillars of an orderly society and lead to breakdown of law and order.

We would, therefore, earnestly request you for reinvestigation of all riot cases fairly and without any bias based on sound principles of criminal investigations to provide justice to the victims and their families and for upholding the rule of law.

Yours sincerely,

Name
Service
Last post/designation before retirement
1.
Shafi Alam
IPS (Retd.)
Former Director-General, National Crime Records Bureau, GoI
2.
K. Saleem Ali
IPS (Retd.)
Former Special Director, CBI, GoI
3.
Mohinderpal Aulakh
IPS (Retd.)
Former Director-General of Police (Jails), Govt. of Punjab
4.
A.S. Dulat
IPS (Retd.)
Former OSD on Kashmir, Prime Minister’s Office, GoI
5.
Aloke B. Lal
IPS (Retd.)
Former Director-General (Prosecution), Govt. of Uttarakhand
6.
Amitabh Mathur
IPS (Retd.)
Former Director, Aviation Research Centre and Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
7.
Avinash Mohananey
IPS (Retd.)
Former Director-General of Police, Govt. of Sikkim
8.
P.G.J. Nampoothiri
IPS (Retd.)
Former Director-General of Police, Govt. of Gujarat
9.
A.K. Samanta
IPS (Retd.)
Former Director-General of Police (Intelligence), Govt. of West Bengal ]