DMC report says Kapil Mishra’s speech triggered riots, fails to mentions loss to Hindu Community
The Delhi Minority Commission has based its report on the testimonies of riot victims and journalists, including this correspondent. It also has references to Asiaville’s coverage of the Delhi riots.
The Delhi riots, which claimed 53 lives in February 2020, were preceded by the Bharatiya Janata Party leader’s speeches maligning the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters. These speeches had communal undertones and open threats of violence against the anti-CAA protesters.
The BJP leaders, in the run-up to the Delhi assembly election, delivered angry rage-inducing speeches that provoked hate against those protesting against the CAA.
Karawal Nagar’s former MLA and BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s “incendiary public speech” in North East Delhi’s Maujpur on February 23 “clearly incited violence in words and intent”.
These are the few notings of the Delhi Minority Commission’s fact-finding report on the Delhi riots. The violence in the North East Delhi district claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. The damage of the communal riots was such that even after the passage of five months, the affected families are struggling to bring their lives back on track. Their houses were ransacked, and their homes, businesses, and places of worship were set on fire. Even their vehicles were not spared.
According to DMC’s fact-finding report, the violence in North East Delhi was not sporadic, but rather strategic and well-planned. The houses and businesses were attacked after identifying the faith of the inhabitants or the owners.
The committee headed by Supreme Court lawyer MR Shamshad indicts BJP leaders such as Kapil Mishra for their role in instigating the riots. It places a question mark on the role of the police before, during and after the violence in North East Delhi.
Incidentally, the DMC’s report has based itself heavily on the media reports, testimonies of the victimised families, and journalists. The report also carries the testimony of this correspondent and has mention of reports carried by Asiaville on the riots.
Kapil Mishra, hate speeches and BJP’s campaign against anti-CAA protesters
The DMC – set up under the Delhi Minority Commission Act 1999 – works to safeguard the rights and interests of the minority communities. In the wake of the worst communal violence that Delhi had witnessed since 1984, the DMC set up a fact-finding committee to prepare a detailed and consolidated report on the Delhi riots.
The fact-finding committee, in its report, has indicted BJP leaders such as Kapil Mishra. It claims that the violence in North East Delhi erupted after Mishra’s inflammatory speech and yet no FIR has been lodged against him so far.
On February 23 at about 5.30 PM, BJP leader Mishra addressed the gathering in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner of Police for North East District Ved Prakash Surya and issued open threats against the anti-CAA protesters and the road blockade being carried out by the women of the Muslim community in Jaffrabad. Mishra made the provocative speech at a time when American President Donald Trump was on an official visit to India. The former Karawal Nagar MLA’s statement was widely reported in the media.
“Within hours of Kapil Mishra’s speech on 23 February 2020, violence broke out in various parts of North East Delhi, including Shiv Vihar, Khajuri Khas, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Maujpur, Karawal Nagar, Jafrabad, Mustafabad, Ashok Nagar, Bhagirathi Vihar, Bhajanpura and Kardam Puri,” the fact-finding report noted.
The DMC in its findings has claimed that “following the speech…mobs quickly fanned out to the local areas, openly carrying various weapons and arms like petrol bombs, iron rods, gas cylinders, stones and even firearms.”
It claims that despite the open display of weapons and firearms by the rioters, “sufficient actions were not taken by the district administration or police to protect life and property”.
Importantly, the DMC findings claim that the rioters had positioned themselves strategically in residential areas and that the violence was not spontaneous, but rather a “planned and targeted” attack on the Muslim population of the area.
Notably, Delhi had stood witness to the most toxic election campaign during the February 2020 assembly election. The hate speeches and statements with communal undertones had become a regular affair. BJP leaders, in their election rallies, openly targeted those protesting against the CAA.
The DMC’s report notes that campaigning in Delhi began shortly after the protests against the CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC) spread across the country and Delhi, including North East Delhi.
“By January 2020, openly communal statements were being made by politicians of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with reference to people protesting against the CAA,” the DMC’s fact-finding report reads.
It has noted that Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Minister Giriraj Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and BJP MP Anurag Thakur were among those who made provocative and threatening statements against the protesters.
Importantly, the fact-finding report also mentions the role of BJP MLA from Laxmi Nagar, Abhay Verma. According to the DMC, Verma on 25 February 2020 “repeated the slogan in public: “desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko” (The country’s traitors, shoot them rascals).”
The minority commission has pointed out that the Delhi Police has not responded to their questionnaire yet. While the chargesheets into the Delhi riot cases are being filed and arrests are being made, so far no FIR has been lodged against the BJP leaders for making “provocative and threatening” statements, the DMC said in its report.
Delhi Police’s role in the riots
The fact-finding report in its findings has claimed that the Delhi Police not only failed to protect the life and property when the violence was unfolding in North East Delhi, but it has also delayed the registration of FIRs, and, in many cases, refused to file one.
The Delhi Police had set up a helpdesk at the Mustafabad Edgah which was converted into the riot relief camp. The DMC, based on the testimony of the riot victim families, has claimed “it was difficult to get complaints registered where serious allegations were made out such as murder, loot and arson and the accused were specifically named.”
The fact-finding report’s most daunting claim in some cases is that “the police were also complicit and abetted the attacks”.
No mention of Hindu victims
The DMC’s fact-finding committee has prepared the report at a time when the country and the world is struggling to combat a deadly virus. Despite the challenges triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak, the committee has been able to compile a long report with varied testimonies of Muslim victim families and even journalists.
However, shockingly enough, the DMC’s report fails to mention the damage and loss to the Hindu families during the Delhi riots.
It has no testimony by the Hindu victim families and fails to even mention how rioters from the Muslim community had also targeted the houses and the businesses owned by the Hindu community.
Asiaville’s coverage of the Delhi riots had highlighted how the communally frenzied mob was baying for blood in North East Delhi. Our reports had mentioned the murders, arson and loot carried out by the rioters on both sides.
For instance, Dilbar Negi – a worker with a bakery in Shiv Vihar – who was killed, dismembered, and incinerated inside his shop, fails to find a mention in the DMC report. The chargesheet in the case has already been filed by the Delhi police and it has identified the accused persons as well.
The dastardly murders of an official attached with the Intelligence Bureau, Ankit Sharma, and Delhi Police’s Ratan Lal have managed to get only one line in the report. The lines followed speak about how these murders were used to prove that the Muslim frenzied mob was running amok in North East Delhi.
Another appalling aspect of the report is the poor attempt to whitewash the image of one of the rioters, Shahrukh Pathan. The North East Delhi resident was caught on camera firing gunshots and pointing his pistol at a Delhi Police official during the riots.
The DMC report reads that his house was under attack and at that stage “Shahrukh took a pistol, came out on the road and fired”. It has noted statements by his neighbours and family members that “he acted in a fit of rage”.
The question is how and why was Pathan in possession of the weapon? The video footage clearly shows Pathan firing gunshots indiscriminately and even pointing it at an official on duty.
The DMC’s report is expected to face criticism for turning a blind eye when it came to the victims of the other aggrieved community. The fact-finding reports are expected to cover all aspects and points of the incident it is probing. The DMC has failed to do so. The present report could have been named ‘the impact of Delhi riots on the Muslim community’ – which paid the biggest price of the violence – rather than a fact-finding report.
(Article Image: Reuters)