Devangana Kalita creating ‘narrative to show’ that Kapil Mishra was behind riots: Delhi Police

Delhi Police thinks student activist Devangana Kalita has enough social media influence and power to create a narrative to blame well known politician Kapil Mishra for North East Delhi communal riots?

Kapil Mishra

According to Delhi Police, Devangana Kalita, an MPhil student, and the founding member of Pinjra Tod, a collective of women academics, was trying to create a ‘narrative to  ‘show’  that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician Kapil Mishra was behind the communal riots that raged through North East Delhi in February 2020.

According to a report in the Indian Express, the Delhi Police, while opposing the bail application of  Devangana Kalita, told a Delhi court that she was creating “narratives” to show that Kapil Mishra was behind the riots, “and making this viral to make people believe it was the truth.” The Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad, who appeared for Delhi Police made these submissions were made before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat. The court put up the matter for further hearing on December 16. Citing a media report, Kalita’s counsel Adit Pujari had argued that the riots were not started by the anti-CAA protesters, but rather by pro-CAA protesters led by Mishra, reported IE.

However the public prosecutor stated that she created “a narrative” and then made the larger masses believe that the narrative was  correct, “so that the masses believe that the prosecution is targeted against one community… Will these media reports decide the fate of prosecution? The accused is trying to show that Kapil Mishra was behind all these and that the police was investigating only one side… Why has the accused relied on media reports? Because the accused also need to take shelter under something. If the investigation, the prosecution and this country is to continue on the foundation of what is being reported in the media, then that is the end of rule of law,” Prasad was quoted by IE.

He countered Adit Pujari’s contention that the prosecution had selectively placed messages from WhatsApp chats to prove their case against Kalita, saying, “every bit and pieces of investigation cannot be part of the chargesheet”. According to him, Kalita cannot say that her case is different from that of the co-accused Sharjeel Imam and that they were following separate paths, reported IE. “I have demonstrated from the tweet of Pinjra Tod that Pinjra Tod was supporting Sharjeel Imam. From the speeches of Imam, it is clear what was the intent. When I want to connect the two, the accused says they were travelling in separate paths and not to connect them. All that the accused was trying to do is create a narrative and not go beyond that,” Prasad said.

It was only in October that the  Supreme Court through its 3 Judge Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah dismissed a Special Leave Petition on filed by the Delhi Police challenging the Delhi High Court order granting bail to Devangana Kalita accused in the Delhi Riots. On September 1, 2020 Justice Suresh Kumar Kait of the Delhi High Court had granted bail to the Pinjra Tod activist in the matter Devangana Kalita vs State of NCT Delhi (Bail App. No. 2038 of 2020). 

Additional Solicitor General of India SV Raju, appearing for State of NCT Delhi, had argued that Kalita is an “influential person” and that she could “tamper evidence” in the case and that the High Court omitted to take cognizance of the relevant aspects of this case.  However, Justice Ashok Bhushan questioned the ASG as to, “How can she tamper evidence? She is not going to run away after evidence.” Justice M R Shah also intervened and asked, “How can the influence of a person be a ground to deny bail?” Justice Bhushan further added that in case she attempted to tamper evidence or influence the witnesses, the Delhi Police shall have the option of seeking a bail cancellation. Despite the ASG’s protestations, Justice Bhushan disposed of the petition by saying, “We are not inclined to interfere. It is only grant of bail. Dismissed.” 

Devangana Kalita was arrested on May 23, 2020 in FIR No. 50/2020 registered at the Jafrabad Police Station in relation to the communal violence which had broken out in North East Delhi in February 2020. It was alleged that she mobilized a crowd of a particular community at the protest site near Jafrabad metro station on February 22 and 23 with an intention to instigate a section of people to indulge in rioting that led to loss of lives and destruction of public and private properties. But she was granted bail by the Delhi High Court citing lack of evidence to show that she instigated violence or gave a hate speech. 

She has also been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in a separate case related to the communal violence, for allegedly being part of a “premeditated conspiracy” in the riots. In all, four cases have been registered against Kalita, including and in relation to the riots and violence in old Delhi’s Daryaganj area during protests against the citizenship laws in December 2019.



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