CRIME AND PREJUDICE
The Caravan|September 2020
CRIME AND PREJUDICE
The BJP and Delhi Police’s hand in the Delhi violence
PRABHJIT SINGH AND ARSHU JOHN

{ONE}

SHADAB ALAM began his day as usual on 24 February 2020. He woke up at his house in Old Mustafabad, in northeast Delhi, where he had been living for more than half a decade, and left by 10 am for Samrat Medical Store, on Wazirabad Road, near Brijpuri Chowk. He had worked at the pharmacy for many years, and it was his job to open it every morning.

The previous afternoon, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra had delivered an incendiary speech near the Jaffrabad metro station, a few kilometres away. Hundreds of women were staging a sit-in at the station to protest the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, passed last year by the Narendra Modi government, and the proposed National Register of Citizens. A wave of demonstrations against the CAA and NRC had swept Delhi and the country, led largely by Muslims who understood their place in the Indian republic to be threatened by the initiatives. The BJP and other Hindutva groups had vilified the protesters, and in numerous places the demonstrations were met with intimidation and violence. Mishra, with the deputy commissioner of police for northeast Delhi standing beside him, declared that if the Delhi Police did not clear the protests at Jaffrabad and neighbouring Chand Bagh, “we will have to come out on the street.”

Alam knew there had been attacks against Muslims in the area the previous night following Mishra’s speech, but he did not think things would escalate further. He worked for a few hours at the shop, then left for the afternoon prayer at a mosque in the Kasab Pura area. Before he headed back, a friend told him over the phone that Muslims were being attacked again. Alam took a longer route to the pharmacy than usual, and returned at around 3 pm.

There was soon loud shouting in the area, and passersby warned of approaching trouble. Anurag Ghai, who owns the pharmacy, shut the shop and climbed to the terrace above it with four of his employees. Besides Alam, two of the others, Naved and Aqib, were Muslims.

A short while later, a group of policemen appeared at a gate that connected to a neighbouring terrace, and tried to climb over it to where Ghai and his employees were. As soon as he allowed them to enter, Ghai later recorded in a sworn affidavit, the police began rounding up the Muslim men. While Ghai pleaded that his employees had been at work, and had not been involved in any violence, he noticed that Alam and Naved were no longer on the terrace. He rushed downstairs in time to see the police taking the men away in a van.

Ghai was told to come to the police station in nearby Dayalpur to seek their release. He went that day, and on each of the next three days, to no effect. In his affidavit, submitted with Alam’s bail plea, Ghai wrote, “The police officials neither informed about the reason for Shadab’s detention nor provided any information about when he would be released.” Alam’s brother also went to the station numerous times, but he could do no better.

Alam remained in custody at the Dayalpur police station for four nights, with 23 other Muslim men picked up from various parts of northeast Delhi. “The first night, some policemen came; they asked our names and kept beating us as they did,” Alam said. “They were drunk. They beat us a lot.”

The men were not allowed to use the bathroom. “When we told the police officials that we needed to urinate, they would tell us to do it inside the cell itself,” Alam said. “We saw others being thrashed while being taken to the bathroom, so after that none of us would ask.”

The abuse had a clear communal colour. Alam said the men were forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram”— Hail Lord Ram. At night, he recalled, drunk policemen beating the men boasted about the number of Muslims they had shot that day.

Mohammed Razi, a resident of Dayalpur, was also among the detainees. He was picked up at around 2.30 pm on 24 February, he later told us, on his way home from work. “A policeman asked my name and then hit me with his baton, instructing me to sit in the police vehicle,” Razi said. “The police picked up more Muslim boys on way to the police station, where we reached at around 4.30 pm.”

Razi, too, described custodial torture that lasted four consecutive nights. “They hit us so badly they broke two of their batons on the very first night,” Razi said. “They beat us with belts, and I was asked to urinate on a room heater.” The heater had an exposed electric coil, and Razi feared that urinating on it would mean electrocuting his genitals. “I kept standing silently, prepared in my mind for more thrashing,” he said. Ultimately, the police did not force him to do it.

Indian criminal procedure unequivocally prohibits the police from detaining anyone for more than 24 hours without producing them before a magistrate. A team of lawyers contacted by the men’s families approached the courts, and on 28 February, a magistrate directed the Dayalpur police station to account for them. The police finally produced the detained men in court later that day.

The magistrate also directed that the lawyers be allowed to meet the men at the station. Five of the 24 detainees had already been taken to court when the lawyers arrived, but the others, including Alam and Razi, were still in lock-up. “We were shocked to see their condition,” one of the lawyers said. “They were stinking, many sat motionless on the floor in the lockup.”

According to the lawyers, the Delhi Police booked the first five detainees taken to the court under the Arms Act, which regulates weaponry. The court sent them to judicial custody. The lawyers were not at the court when the five were presented, but they were in attendance when the remaining 19 men were produced. The lawyers accused the police of custodial torture, which the police denied. The police also denied that the men had been held in illegal custody, past the 24-hour limit, and claimed that all 19 had been arrested earlier that same day, under two first-information reports registered at the Dayalpur police station on 24 February.

Ten of the men were arrested in connection to the first of these, FIR Number 57 of 2020, which concerned a chicken shop and numerous vehicles that had been burnt down near Sherpur Chowk, in Khajuri Khas, during the communal violence on the night of 23 February. It did not name a single specific perpetrator. The second, FIR Number 58 of 2020, referred only to the violence in general, and also did not accuse anyone by name. The nine remaining men were arrested in connection to this document. According to the lawyer, the police “were not clear on the names that had to be divided into the two FIRs” even when the detainees arrived in court.

Despite claiming that the men had been arrested just that day, the police did not want to question them further: the police asked the court to send the men to judicial custody, not to police custody, where they could be interrogated.

The magistrate Richa Manchanda was not persuaded that the men should be released. Manchanda passed almost identical orders in the two cases arising from the two FIRs, and sent the men to judicial custody till 13 March.

When accusing the police of custodial torture, the lawyers had asked for an immediate medical examination of the detained men. The police objected, claiming that they had already been examined. Manchanda agreed to the lawyers’ request, and the men were examined upon arrival at Delhi’s Mandoli Central Jail. Alam’s examination revealed “large bruises on back and buttocks,” and “injury marks on Lt thigh, on Rt thigh upper and buttock.”

Even when they were produced in court, the men did not know what crimes they had been accused of. “We did not get anything that was being discussed,” Razi said. It was only after arriving at the jail that Razi learnt he had been booked under FIR 58. Alam was booked under FIR 57.

Alam’s lawyers filed his first bail application on 11 March. It included his account of custodial torture and medical proof of his injuries, as well as the sworn affidavit from Ghai, backed by CCTV footage from the pharmacy and terrace to corroborate his account of Alam’s detention four days before the police claimed he was arrested. “It is a matter of record that the FIR does not contain the name or any details of any of the alleged accused giving the police a free hand to pick and choose as to whom they want to arrest,” the application noted.

Hukum Singh, the investigating officer in the case, filed a reply on behalf of the Delhi Police. He claimed that an unnamed “special informer” had told him about a gathering of rioters at Sherpur Chowk at 3 am on 28 February, and that the police arrived on the scene to arrest the accused. Singh wrote that the accused had caused “nuisance in general public,” “tried to disturb the peace,” “raised slogans against the country” and “caused fire and damaged the property.” He argued that “riots can increase” if the accused were released. The magistrate Vinod Kumar Gautam issued ten identical orders to deny bail to all those arrested under FIR 57.

Alam’s lawyers filed another bail application before a sessions judge. To add to the earlier submissions and supporting materials, they argued that even Singh’s reply did not “disclose any basis for the identification of the accused or any description of his role/acts allegedly committed by him.” The judge Sudhir Kumar Jain dismissed the application, without saying anything of the police’s failure to produce even a single piece of evidence against Alam. Jain wrote in his dismissal order that Alam was “apprehended at the spot and was found involved in large scale violence and arson.”

The lawyers then moved the Delhi High Court seeking bail. The judge Mukta Gupta issued a detailed order identifying discrepancies in the police’s narrative. The police claimed to have found two eyewitnesses, yet had provided a statement from only one. Even that statement, Gupta noted, “is an omnibus statement and does not identify any accused.” The judge found it strange that “no police custody remand was sought,” and recorded the defence’s submission that the CCTV footage established that Alam and Naved were detained on 24 February. “There is undoubtedly a mystery surrounding the arrest of the petitioner and co-accused,” Gupta wrote, “which is further fortified by the nature of injuries received by the petitioner.” Yet, with all these reasons to doubt the police’s claims, Gupta dismissed the bail application.

The police filed a charge sheet in the case in late April. They attached disclosure statements from nine of the ten accused men. Seven of these statements were identical—often an indication that statements have been fabricated—and the language in parts of the other two statements overlapped with them. In exactly the same language, seven men apparently confessed, “Humne wahan khade dusre biradri ke logon ko dande se maara”—We beat members of the other community with sticks. All seven apparently declared, “Hum aaj bhi jhagde ke iraade se khade the”—We were standing there with the intent to cause violence. In all nine statements, the men ended their confessions saying, “Mujhse galti ho gayi, maaf kiya jaye”—I committed a mistake, please forgive me.

Alam was finally released on bail in mid-May, after a judge noted that there was no more purpose to keeping the accused in judicial custody now that the charge sheet had been filed. All ten men arrested under FIR 57 have been released, pending trial. The men named in FIR 58 are awaiting trial too, and many of them are still in prison.

WHILE ALAM AND THE OTHER MEN were being held in the Dayalpur station, Hindu mobs rampaged across northeast Delhi, targeting Muslim residents and properties. Over fifty people were killed, the large majority of them Muslims. Some were beaten to death, others stabbed or shot. In a video published by The Caravan, one Hindu man remorselessly described taking part in the attacks and watching as three Muslim men were burnt alive.

Thousands of Muslims lost their homes or abandoned them in fear. Muslim-owned businesses were specifically targeted—in the aftermath, many of these stood gutted and burnt beside unscathed Hindu-owned businesses right next door. Numerous mosques were set on fire.

Targeted, mass communal violence has been an endemic feature of the Indian republic. The February violence carried especially strong echoes of 1984, when Hindu mobs massacred over three thousand Sikhs in the national capital, and of 2002, when Hindu mobs murdered at least seven hundred Muslims in Gujarat. In both cases, copious reports pointed to political leaders and the police having a direct hand in the carnage, only for multiple official enquiries to obscure their complicity.

The February violence in Delhi was preceded by years of the stigmatisation of Indian Muslims, stoked by Hindutva forces organised around the BJP’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The anti-CAA demonstrations that so incensed Kapil Mishra were the most concerted expression yet of popular resistance to the Hindutva project. During and after the attacks, an overwhelming amount of evidence emerged to show the complicity and participation of the Delhi Police and the BJP.

More than two dozen survivors and witnesses told us they approached police stations during and after the violence to try and record details of what occurred in official complaints. Almost all of them were turned away, often with abusive language and threats of implicating them in false cases if they persisted. Even when complaints were accepted, many complainants said, the police omitted key details about police and political complicity, including the names of police officials and BJP leaders.

Many Muslims were only able to file their complaints at a police help desk set up at an Eidgah ground in Mustafabad, the site of a temporary relief camp through most of March. The complaints bore the stamps of one or many of the police stations covering the relevant jurisdictions. A number of these complaints were marked as having been copied and sent to the prime minister’s office, the ministry of home affairs, the office of the lieutenant governor of Delhi, and multiple police stations.

The Caravan is in possession of numerous police complaints filed by residents of northeast Delhi since February. Many residents have also given video interviews reiterating the testimony in their complaints, and describing efforts by the police to get them withdrawn.

One complainant wrote that she saw three senior police officials fire at and kill protesters in the neighbourhood of Chand Bagh. Another wrote that she heard an assistant commissioner of police assure Kapil Mishra over the phone, “Don’t worry, we will strew the streets with their dead bodies such that it will be remembered for generations.” Yet another complainant described seeing police officials supervise the looting of a mosque and madrasa before they were burnt down, and overhearing instructions for looted money to be taken to the home of the BJP leader Satya Pal Singh.

The name of Satya Pal Singh, a member of parliament representing Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh, recurs in numerous complaints. Apart from him and Kapil Mishra, the BJP leaders named in the complaints include Nand Kishore Gujjar, who represents Loni in the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly. Loni lies just across the state border separating northeast Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, and Baghpat is another 25 kilometres to the north. Also named are Mohan Singh Bisht, a member of the Delhi legislative assembly from northeast Delhi’s Karawal Nagar, and Jagdish Pradhan, a former MLA who lost his seat of Mustafabad in the assembly elections held a few weeks before the violence.

The police officials named in the complaints include Ved Prakash Surya, the deputy commissioner who was standing beside Mishra when he made his speech, as well as Anuj Kumar and Dinesh Sharma, both additional commissioners of police. Tarkeshwar Singh, the station house officer at the Dayalpur police station during the violence, is also named, as is RS Meena, the SHO of the nearby Bhajanpura police station at the time.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly made clear that the police have an obligation to register FIRs in response to any complaints that describe a cognisable offence, yet none of the BJP leaders named in these complaints have had FIRs registered against them. None of the police officials named have seen FIRs against them either, or faced internal investigation or action. The police have tried to defend their inaction by arguing that the complaints were delayed, but have ignored the fact that several complaints describe how the police pressured complainants not to register them, and to suppress key details and names.

The Delhi Police has also failed to investigate many crucial aspects of the attacks. Numerous complainants have described how Hindu mobs fired guns, threw petrol bombs and pelted stones from Mohan Nursing Home and Hospital, a private institution near the Bhajanpura police station, in the presence of the police. Videos have surfaced showing Hindu assailants firing from the roof of the nursing home at the same time that a Muslim man sheltering atop a building opposite to it was shot dead. Yet, the police did not investigate the hospital in the case.

Instead of investigating Hindu mobs and complaints of police and political complicity, the Delhi Police has used suspect evidence to implicate hundreds of Muslim residents, and to claim that civil activists, anti-CAA protesters and prominent Muslim figures conspired to instigate the violence. The special cell of the Delhi Police has accused the alleged conspirators of committing offences under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Nineteen people had been arrested in the conspiracy case by late August, and only one of them had been released on bail.

The anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002 occurred under the watch of Narendra Modi, then the state’s chief minister. After the bloodshed, police officials who tried to prevent violence in their jurisdictions were punished, as were those who accused Modi and the BJP of having a hand in the violence. Police officials who let the mobs have their way and defended the political leadership against charges of culpability were rewarded. At the time, the Gujarat police answered directly to the state’s home minister, Amit Shah. The Delhi Police answers to the union government, and specifically to the ministry of home affairs. The present head of the government is Narendra Modi. The union home minister is Amit Shah.

ONE OF THE DETAINEES at the Dayalpur police station was a juvenile, a 17-year-old Muslim named in FIR 58. His description of his treatment by the police closely corroborates the accounts of Alam and Razi.

“On 24 February, I was returning from work when I was stopped by police officials,” he said. “They asked me my name, beat me with sticks and put me in their vehicle. There were three or four other people in it already—all of them Muslim.”

At the Dayalpur station, the men were told to wait in lockup. The beating soon began. “They would just come and start beating us with their belts,” the 17-year-old said. “We told them that we were just doing our work. They knew this.” The beatings were so severe that the police “broke their belts and sticks.” He described being beaten with his legs tied, and left with marks all across his back and body.

When one man lost consciousness, “they poured water on him to bring him back and said, ‘Saale, drama kar raha hai’”—Bastard, you’re being dramatic. “Then they beat him again.” Several people were “were taken upstairs, and they said they were stripped and beaten.” The beatings continued until 28 February, when the detainees were presented in court.

The detainees were not allowed to go to the bathroom. “If someone kept asking, then the police would beat them with sticks on their way to the bathroom,” the 17-year-old said. “I urinated in my pants several times.” He did not need to defecate, he explained, “because we had not eaten.” After several days in detention, “we were given food for the first time on the twenty-seventh—puri and sabzi. They would only give us water.” The detainees got just “two bottles of two litres” to share between them each day. The young man added that the detainees “used to feel cold at night, but there was nothing to cover ourselves with.”

On the night of 27 February, the detainees were taken for a medical examination, at northeast Delhi’s GTB Hospital. “It was conducted in batches of five,” the 17-year-old recalled. “The doctor just looked at my face. He did not ask me anything about whether I was in pain, or if anything was hurting. He didn’t examine me at all. Then he wrote something on a piece of paper, and then we left.”

When presented in court the following day, the young man was crying. When the lawyers tried to comfort him, “I told them I wasn’t doing anything, I was just returning from work and they picked me up.” The lawyers got him to call his family, “and my mother came to court with my Aadhaar card.” After the magistrate examined it, the 17-year-old was taken to juvenile court, and then to a juvenile home.

“People treated me kindly there,” he recalled. He was released from the home in late March. “I don’t go out anymore. I am scared that they’ll pick me up again.” In early August, the Delhi Police filed a charge sheet against the 17-year-old, accusing him of rioting and using explosives, and asked a court for more time to complete their investigation against the others accused.

The police are also accused of the custodial torture of four Muslim detainees at the station in Khajuri Khas on the night of 24 February. Mushtaqin, an auto driver, told us he had been standing on the street at a dargah in Bhajanpura that afternoon, when he was attacked by policemen and a Hindu mob. He said he was identified as a Muslim by his skullcap. Mushtaqin said the policemen pointed to the mob and asked him, “Should we hand you over to them?” The police forced him to hold an axe and asked the mob to make a video, he recalled, “to prove that the Muslims are resorting to rioting and killings.” Mushtaqin was taken into custody at Khajuri Khas.

At the station, Mushtaqin said, he was beaten with “a long, huge leather belt” inscribed with the words, “Aao milo sajna” and “Phir kab miloge”— “Come meet me, love” and “When will we meet again?” Ikram, a tailor who was also held at the Khajuri Khas station that night, said he had been tortured too. Ikram and Mushtaqin both said that two others, Sarfaraz and Aman, were also held and tortured with them.

The four men were named together in a subsequent FIR. Mushtaqin and Ikram said they spent over three months in prison before they were released on bail.

Ikram said the FIR accused them of burning down a police booth at Bhajanpura. The Caravan earlier reported that Hindu mobs burnt down a petrol station and a mazar—shrine—near the Bhajanpura police booth. There have been no reports of the police booth itself being burnt down.

{TWO}

ALAM AND THE OTHER MEN named in FIR 57 are accused of burning down Sanjar Chicken Corner—incorrectly identified as “Punjabi Chicken Corner” in the FIR. The shop’s owner, Mohammad Mumtaz, described the circumstances surrounding the incident. His account raises more damning questions about the Delhi Police’s conduct—in relation to FIR 57, and in relation to the role of the police and BJP leaders in the violence.

Since 23 February was a Sunday, Mumtaz said, there was a rush of customers at the shop. “I saw that at Sherpur Chowk, around one hundred and fifty metres from my shop, there was a crowd of around three hundred to four hundred people.” Mumtaz heard the crowd chanting “Jai Shri Ram,” “Mohan Singh Bisht zindabad” and “Kapil Mishra zindabad.”

At around 8 pm, “a crowd came from there and began pelting stones at my shop,” Mumtaz continued. “My staff and I ducked underneath the tables and managed to escape from the back door to save ourselves.”

Mumtaz identified several individuals moving towards the shop with weapons. “My brother saw this, my staff saw this, they can all testify to it,” he said. “They were holding pistols, swords, lathis, iron rods, petrol bombs—they had all sorts of weapons. I looked through the back entrance and saw that they were looting my cash box. When I went in to try and stop them, they put a gun to my head.” The mob set his shop on fire at around 10 pm.

“I must have dialed 100”—the police helpline—“at least a hundred times that night,” Mumtaz said. “My brothers also called. But we got no response. We urged them to come quickly, told them that there is a large mob of rioters, many of them are locals.” The police and the fire brigade only arrived on the scene after Mumtaz’s shop was burnt down.

Mumtaz said a police official visited his house at around 2.30 am that night to tell him that another official, Hukum Singh, had been assigned as the investigating officer in the case. The official asked Mumtaz to go meet Singh at the Dayalpur station immediately. But when Mumtaz went to the station, Hukum Singh told him he was in a meeting and asked him to return the next day.

At 10 am on 24 February, Mumtaz received a call from Tarkeshwar Singh, the station house officer of the Dayalpur police station at the time. The SHO told him that items from his shop were lying on the road outside it, Mumtaz recalled, and he was told they would be removed unless he picked them up. When he arrived at the shop, Mumtaz found the SHO and other police officials already at the site.

Mumtaz described how he heard a police official approach Tarkeshwar and say, “Sir, there is a call from parliamentarian Satpal-ji”—Satya Pal Singh, who was the police commissioner of Mumbai before he entered politics with the BJP. Mumtaz recalled hearing Tarkeshwar say into the phone, “Theek hai netaji Satpalji, aaj koi bhi nahi bachega zinda”—Yes, Satpal sir, nobody will be left alive today.

Mumtaz said Tarkeshwar left after speaking with Satya Pal. Soon after this, a mob approached the area from Sherpur Chowk. Mumtaz recognised its members as locals from the area, and identified several of them as members of the RSS. “I know each and every one of them,” he said.

The mob began breaking the locks of Muslim-owned businesses in the area and looting them. “They broke the lock to Maqbool’s shop Maqbool motorcycle-wala, he is a mechanic and a Muslim,” Mumtaz said. “They stole all the valuables from his shop. Then they set it on fire.”

On 2 March, Mumtaz returned to the Dayalpur station to file his complaint. “When I lodged a complaint identifying members of the mob by name, they refused to accept it,” he said. “So I filed a simple complaint in which I just wrote that mobs chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ set my shop on fire.” But the police told him to remove even the chant, and to describe the perpetrators only as unidentified rioters.

“The police did not register the FIR according to what I wanted to say,” Mumtaz said. “They did it in accordance with what they wanted.” On 2 July, Mumtaz sent a fresh complaint identifying the individuals who burnt his shop and detailing all the allegations against Bisht and the police, to SN Shrivastava, the commissioner of the Delhi Police.

In his letter to the commissioner, Mumtaz wrote that when he was returning home after seeing his shop burnt down on the night of 23 February, he came across Mohan Singh Bisht in conversation with a group of associates. Mumtaz overheard the BJP legislator telling them, “Samay aa gaya hai ki inn kattuo ko dhund-dhund kar maar de”—The time has come to track these Muslims down and kill them. (“Kattua” is a slur for Muslims.) Bisht told the group to also burn Muslims’ homes and cars, and to loot and burn their shops. Mumtaz wrote that he heard Bisht say this was to make sure “that generations will remember,” and will never have the courage to protest the CAA again or “even raise their heads against us.”

On the morning of 25 February, Mumtaz also wrote in the complaint, he and other Muslim locals stepped out of their homes to assess the damage. A mob spotted them and charged. As Mumtaz’s group ran to the safety of their lane, someone in the mob shouted, “You have survived for now, but watch what happens in two hours. Not a single one of you will be left alive.”

A little while later, Mumtaz wrote, the mob reached the lane, accompanied by Tarkeshwar Singh. Bisht soon arrived to join them, Mumtaz noted, and the mob broke into chants of “Mohan Singh Bisht zindabad.”

Mumtaz recorded Bisht’s address to the mob in his complaint. “Finish the job fast,” Bisht told them, according to the document. “These Muslims should not have the guts to live here after this.” Bisht and the mob then proceeded into the lane, throwing petrol bombs and stones at the houses. “I saw Mohan Singh Bisht take a bomb and throw it into my house,” Mumtaz wrote. As he watched from a nearby terrace, “there was a loud explosion from the house, and then they broke the lock to the door and everyone went inside.” While the mob looted the house, Mumtaz added, Bisht left the scene.

MUMTAZ IS ONE OF MANY witnesses to describe the complicity of the police and BJP leaders in official complaints. Just hours after Kapil Mishra’s speech on 23 February threatening anti-CAA protesters in Jaffrabad, the BJP leader incited a rampage by an armed mob less than two kilometres away, in Kardampuri, according to two complaints lodged with the Delhi Police.

One of the complaints—stamped as received by the home ministry and the prime minister’s office, as well as the offices of Delhi’s lieutenant general and commissioner of police—was filed on 24 February. The complainant, Mohammad Jami Rizvi, a resident of northeast Delhi’s Yamuna Vihar, wrote that at around 2 pm on 23 February, Mishra appeared before a crowd of around twenty-five people in Kardampuri—another site of ongoing anti-CAA sit-ins. The protest had more people than usual that day on account of a Bharat Bandh, or all-India strike, called by Dalit groups to protest a Supreme Court judgment diluting reservations in promotions for public posts.

Rizvi wrote that the crowd shouted:

Kapil Mishra tum lath bajao, hum tumhare saath hai

Lambe-lambe lath bajao, hum tumhare saath hai

Kheech-kheech ke lath bajao, hum tumhare saath hai

Mullo par tum lath bajao, hum tumhare saath hai

Chamaaro par tum lath bajao, hum tumhare saath hai

(Kapil Mishra, you beat them with sticks, we are with you

Beat them with long sticks, we are with you

Beat them with full force, we are with you

Beat the Muslims, we are with you

Beat the Dalits, we are with you)

Mishra then addressed the crowd. Rizvi wrote that “Kapil Mishra and his accomplices, who were carrying guns, swords and tridents, spears, sticks, stones and glass bottles et cetera, were chanting casteist and communal slogans,” and walked towards the protest site. “Mishra then addressed the crowd, ‘Those who clean the toilets of our homes, should we now place them on a pedestal?’ His accomplices shouted in response, ‘Absolutely not.’ Then Kapil Mishra said, ‘These Muslims were first protesting CAA and NRC, and now they even started protesting for reservation. Now we will have to teach them a lesson.’”

After hearing this, Rizvi wrote, Mishra’s accomplices began throwing stones at protesters in Kardampuri, and “in the presence of the police, they began stopping cars on the road. They identified the vehicles of Muslims and Dalits, and while abusing them and calling them anti-nationals, mullahs, and using casteist words against the Dalits, they beat them up and destroyed their cars.”

Meanwhile, Rizvi added, “Kapil Mishra was brandishing his gun in the air and telling all the attackers, ‘Don’t leave these fuckers. Today we will teach them such a lesson that they will forget how to protest.’”

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September 2020