Replies to an RTI application by lawyer A. Mohamed Yusuff before the Public Information Officer (PIO) cum Addl. Deputy Commissioner of Police, North-East District of Delhi revealed astonishing numbers such as: 1,142 arrests were made, but only 171 cases are in court so far. In this opinion, A. Mohamed Yusuff, shares the data that shows the direction, and speed in which the investigations into the worst communal riots in the National Capital in recent times are moving.
The riots that rocked North-East Delhi during last week of February this year, were a planned and organised form of violence, targetting members of the Muslim community. As media reports and independent fact finding reports, including the Delhi State Minority Commission report have revealed, a large majority of those who were mercilessly killed, severely injured and owners of properties lost, were Muslims. Instead of protecting the lives and properties of innocent people during riots, the Delhi Police, under the Union Home Ministry, have allegedly sided with the rioters in revenge against the minority community members. Even after the riots, the Delhi Police remains a tool in the hands of its political masters in continuing the vendetta by allegedly letting free the real culprits and their conspirators owing allegiance to Sangh Parivar and falsely implicating innocent local Muslims, other community leaders and every political dissident who dared to play a role in the anti-CAA-NRC-NPR agitations in Delhi.
Innocent Muslims and other activists were also allegedly falsely implicated, harassed and arbitrarily arrested in stringent provisions of law namely Sec. 124A of IPC, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, etc. Moreover, the participants of democratic protests at Shaheen Bagh and other places in Delhi, and the students of Jamia Millia University and Jawaharlal Nehru University have also been booked for dissenting against the government policies, which is a democratic right guaranteed by our Constitution. On the other hand, the police were allegedly not ready to register the FIR against the BJP leaders, the Union Ministers and other Sangh Parivar associates who were allegedly the real instigators and conspirators of riots, even after being questioned by the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the urgent hearing at midnight on February 27.
The Delhi Police refused to fulfil its duty by making submissions that the situation was “not conducive” to file FIRs in the matter and then seeking four week time to respond to the plea. Subsequently, Hon’ble Justice Muralidhar, who heard the matter was suddenly transferred to Punjab & Haryana High Court.
It is in this background that, the claims of the Delhi police (that is under the control of the MHA), about its neutrality, becomes a farce. Hence, by way of evidence to its claimed honesty and integrity, the Delhi Police has to reveal community-wise data of the charges and sections imposed on each accused, number of people arrested, number of people still in prison and the number of those who got bail. They should also publicise all names that appear in FIRs along with their party/ organisation affiliations and leadership positions. The civil society has the right to know the case status of known RSS-BJP leaders and cadres who openly played a lead role in attacking innocent Muslims, their dwellings, shops and mosques.
Sabrangindia spoke to advocates to assess the implications of this information that further emphasises the unprofessionalism of the Delhi police. That story may be read here.
In this regard, I have filed a RTI application before the Public Information Officer (PIO) cum Addl. Deputy Commissioner of Police, North-East District of Delhi on June 19 and sought information about the FIRs, accused persons and related documents in connection with communal violence erupted in North-East Delhi on 24 February 2020 onwards.
Sabrangindia, meanwhile has received more updated information on the number of arrests, FIRs and chargesheets from information filed in Ms Brinda Karat’s case. This information may be read here.
The reply dated July 22, from the PIO Sukant S. Ballabh was received on Monday, July 27 2020), and gave minimal information.
This is what the Delhi Police stated:
Question: How many First Information Reports (FIRs) have been registered in different police stations till date related to the above mentioned communal violence?
Answer: As per report of all SHOs/NED, a total of 754 FIRs r/o riots have been registered in this district.
Question: How many FIRs have been investigated by the concerned jurisdictional police stations?
Answer: As per report of all SHOs/NED, total 693 FIRs r/o riots are being investigated in this district.
Question: How many FIRs have been transferred to the Crime Branch for investigation till date?
Answer: As per report of all SHOs/NED, total 61 FIRs
Question: How many FIRs have been transferred to the Special Cell for investigation till date?
Answer: As mentioned in the above answer
Question: How many accused persons have been arrested till date in each FIR?
Answer: As per report of all SHOs/NED, total 1,142 arrest r/o cases regarding riots have been made in this district.
Question: In how many FIRs/ Cases, the Charge Sheets were filed before the concerned jurisdictional Magistrate/ Court till date?
Answer: As per report of all SHOs/NED, total 171 cases in r/o riots have been put in court in this district.
The RTI reply may be read here:
Out of 34 questions asked, the Addl. DCP answered only 5 questions.
The rest of the questions related to the copy of FIRs, names of the arrested persons, their bail details – station bail and court bail, judicial remand, copy of remand applications, copy of remand orders, number of the accused persons taken into police custody for one time as well as multiple times, copy of charge alteration reports, date on which court the charge sheets have been filed, copy of charge sheets, etc., have not been answered by the Addl. DCP citing the following: “As per report of all SHOs/NED, the requisite details/ information cannot be provided in view of section 8(1) (g, j & h) of RTI Act, 2005 being very sensitive information and related to law & order”.
The contention of the Addl. DCP is unsustainable.
While filing the application I have clearly stated that the requested information and documents are public documents. They won’t come under the provisions of exempted category of u/s 8 of the RTI Act. Moreover, the requested information and documents will not affect the on-going process of investigation. This is because, FIRs are completed documents; details of accused persons, remand days and dates of custody are the open court details and there is nothing to conceal from the public in the eyes of law. Moreover, the remand applications, police custody applications, charge alteration reports and charge sheets were submitted in open court and they are also public documents. I didn’t request any information or document, which will affect the ongoing process of investigation. So, the information and documents requested can’t be denied in the name of exempted category. Even then, the major portion of information was denied by the Addl. DCP.
The RTI application may be read here:
According to the Delhi police hierarchy, it has two different units as Crime Branch and Special Cell. The riots cases are now being investigated by the three agencies viz. jurisdictional police stations of North East Delhi (SHOs/NED), Crime Branch and Special Cell.
According to the RTI reply, 693 out of 754 cases are being investigated by the SHOs of NED and rest of the 61 cases have been transferred to the Crime Branch. To the question, “How many FIRs have been transferred to the Special Cell for investigation till date?’, the answer was the same as 61 cases. So, the 61 transferred FIRs are being investigated by the Crime Branch and Special Cell.
In the disguise of exempted category, Delhi police denied the key information and documents which are made to be public, to prove the honesty, integrity and impartiality of the Delhi police. As a follow up measure, I will file the appeal against the denial of information before the first appellate authority, who is the Deputy Commissioner of Police, NED. Our efforts have to be continued till the last culprit is punished by the courts of law and till the last innocent is exonerated of false charges.
(The author A. Mohamed Yusuff, , is an advocate, and is a part of a team of lawyers who are assisting the survivors of the Northeast Delhi riots)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are the authors own.