Delhi riots: Relief workers detained, questioned by police; journalists told to go back

Several lawyers who are providing legal aid to the victims said there were officials from the Union Home Ministry who were collecting data of all those relief workers and journalists entering the camp

Students after they were released from the Welcome police station
Students after they were released from the Welcome police station
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Ashlin Mathew

The Delhi government officials and the police have been stopping people on Saturday and Sunday from providing relief to those affected by the worst orchestrated communal violence in north-east Delhi in decades. On Sunday, six students, who had reached Kabir Nagar to volunteer with the relief work, were stopped by locals and then detained by the CRPF and police at Welcome Police Station near Gokulpuri. By late Sunday evening, Delhi Police had reached Jamia Nagar in search of these students.

The worst orchestrated communal violence in decades in Delhi broke out on February 24 in north-east Delhi after those who were supporting the Citizenship Amendment Act clashed with those against the Act. The violent Hindutva mob ran amok in Maujpur, Jaffrabad, Shiv Vihar, Mustafabad, Chand Bagh, Brijpuri, Babarpur, Karawal Nagar, Khajoori Khas and Yamuna Vihar. As a result of the violence, at least 55 people have lost their lives, 250 have been injured and more than 15,000 displaced.

Students in the police station (NH Photo)
Students in the police station (NH Photo)

The six Jamia Millia Islamia post graduate Malayalee students – Shumais Nazar, Mohd. Mukthar, Abdul Basith, Fazal Haq, Safvan and Basim Ameeruddin – were headed to the relief coordination office of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind at Kabir Nagar. These students were to conduct a survey in a locality in Chand Bagh to understand what the people had lost, how much losses they had made and to speak to them about the trauma they suffered.

“We were headed to help with the survey for the first time. We got out of Maujpur-Babarpur metro station at 10.30 am and were walking towards Kabir Nagar. As we were in the locality for the first time, we asked a few locals to guide us. They asked us where we were from and what we were doing in the area. Since, we did not think that they were suspicious, we spoke to them. Once we reached the coordination office, they informed us about the work we had to do and asked us to head to Chand Bagh for the survey,” explained Nazar.

As soon as they got out of the bylanes on to the main road, these six students were stopped by the men who had earlier questioned them and around 10 CRPF and police personnel. The police rounded them up immediately and took them to Welcome Police Station around 12.45 pm. “We told the police that we had gone there only to help with the relief work. They still took down our details but did not take away our phones. They repeatedly asked us why we were there and told us that we shouldn’t be in the area as it was dangerous. Once we were detained, we called the coordination office and they arranged for a lawyer. We were released by 4.45 pm,” said Nazar.

On Saturday too, relief workers and journalists were stopped from reaching the relief camp at Eidgah in Mustafabad. “At the entrance of the lane to the camp, the Delhi Wakf Board has ordered registration of everyone heading to the camp. Journalists are being stopped at the entrance too and are being asked to register even if they have a government accreditation card. Security guards informed journalists that there were specific timings, 12 noon to 1 pm, when journalists would be allowed to enter the camp. Several lawyers who are providing legal aid to the victims said there were officials from the Union Home Ministry who were collecting data of all those relief workers and journalists entering the camp,” said a journalist who was stopped at the entrance and did not want to be named.

Another group of volunteers from Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, who were sorting food packets at Kabir Nagar, were stopped by the Delhi Police personnel who wanted to take photographs of the relief workers. “As soon as we saw the police photographing us, we questioned them why. They said that every police station should know what is happening within their limits. So, then the relief workers asked the police if there was a notification issued to photograph the relief workers and if these photographs were being taken to slap cases on them later. The police were then made to delete the photographs as they said they did not have any government order to do so,” said a volunteer at the camp.

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Published: 8 Mar 2020, 9:18 PM
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