REIMAGINING PROVOCATION
India Today|September 28, 2020
REIMAGINING PROVOCATION
DELHI RIOTS INVESTIGATION
Kaushik Deka

On September 13, a political slugfest erupted over reports claiming that the Delhi Police had named a number of political leaders and intellectuals—like CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, economist and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Jayati Ghosh, Delhi University professor Apoorvanand and documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy— as co-conspirators in a supplementary chargesheet relating to the riots in northeast Delhi this February. The Delhi Police denied the reports, saying that Yechury and these others had not been named as ‘accused’ but their names had come up in the “disclosure statements” of those accused in the case. This denial didn’t do much to deflect persistent criticism from civil society groups and public intellectuals that the riots investigations have been one-sided and motivated—and that the police has determinedly looked away from evidence pointing to other actors who played a pivotal role in inflaming passions that may have led to the communal violence. The AAP-ruled Delhi state government and a fact-finding report by the Delhi Minorities Commission also earlier accused the Delhi Police, which answers to the Union home ministry, of bias. However, in a response to a letter by former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Rebeiro seeking an impartial investigation, Delhi police commissioner S.N. Shrivastava said that the probe was guided by facts and evidence and not by reputation and personalities.

Even so, the courts have also ticked off the Delhi Police, while exhorting them to conduct an impartial investigation. In May, additional sessions judge Dharmender Rana, hearing an application for the judicial remand of a Jamia Millia Islamia student, observed that the “investigation seemed to be targeted only towards one end”. On July 24, Rana said the Delhi Police was in a “state of inscrutable indolence” after being informed that the police had not yet examined the security camera footage from Maujpur and Jafrabad metro stations, the epicentres of the riot.

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September 28, 2020