After court strictures against Delhi Police in riots case, heads should roll from the top down

The judge said that when “history books would look back”, it will be the “failure of the investigating agency” (Delhi Police) that “will surely torment the sentinels of democracy”

A view of Northeast Delhi’s Karawal Nagar after the riots, on Feb 26, 2020. (IANS)
A view of Northeast Delhi’s Karawal Nagar after the riots, on Feb 26, 2020. (IANS)

Sushil Kutty

If there is shame, the Delhi Police is shameless. And the courts have of late shamed the Delhi Police – ‘a Delhi court’ one day, the Delhi High Court the next day.

A couple of days ago, a Delhi court roundly castigated the Delhi Police for failing to properly investigate the 2020 northeast Delhi riots even as three men arraigned by the Delhi Police on charges of rioting, arson and other related offences were set free.

Social media exploded at the incompetence of the Delhi Police, which was also seen as communally biased by a significant section of the populace. So much so, there were those who steadfastly believed that the Delhi Police itself was no less communal than the marauding mobs who rampaged through the streets of northeast Delhi for three days, killing 54 and injuring scores others.

Any self-respecting police force would have used its best officers to prove the charges levelled, true or false, against the accused men. But the Delhi Police is without the mojo it used to have once, long ago. Especially after Amit Shah got charge of the Union Home Ministry in 2019. The Delhi Police serves the politicians who lord over it rather than the people of Delhi. In fact, the Delhi Police works in the shadow of the Union Home Ministry. The Delhi Police is caught in a systemic fault-line, and no amount of screaming and shouting can undo the knot.

The BJP, because it’s in power at the Centre, is forever parading the benefits of a “double-engine” government for the national Capital. However, the Delhi electorate has chosen not to give the BJP the ‘state” of Delhi and, therefore, without the “double-engine”, the Modi Government makes sure that the Delhi Police remains at its beck and call. In situations like the northeast Delhi riots, it’s advantage the Union government, ergo the BJP.

But, unlike the AAP Government, the courts aren’t helpless. If a wrong is perpetrated, India’s courts have for the most part delivered justice. So, it’s that the Delhi court freed three accused in one of the 2020 northeast Delhi riots cases, one of them charged with “looting and damaging” a shop.

The judge flayed the Delhi Police for not making the “effort” to properly investigate the case, noting that “merely filing charge-sheet without any real effort made to trace out the eye witnesses, real accused persons and technical evidence" will not do.

Calling the riots the worst since Partition in Delhi, the judge said that when “history books would look back”, it will be the “failure of the investigating agency” (Delhi Police) that “will surely torment the sentinels of democracy”.

The Delhi Police took all the insults heaped on it in silence even as its reputation, whatever little was left of it, lay in shreds. In fact, it’s a wonder there have been no calls for heads to roll, both in the Delhi Police and in the Union Home Ministry. Come to think of it, Union Home Minister Amit Shah should set the example. He should take the blame and head for the sunset.

The judge made it amply clear that he was disgusted at the functioning of the Delhi Police in the “instant case”; the “lack of supervision thereof by the superior officers” depicting that the investigating agency “merely tried to pull the wool over the court’s eyes and nothing else.”

He went on to hammer the Delhi Police for the “colossal wastage of hard-earned money of tax-payers, without there being any real intent of investigating the matter”. Earlier, it had fined the Delhi Police Rs 25,000 for “miserably failing” to investigate the 2020 northeast Delhi riots.

Among other things, in the “instant case”, the FIR was registered six days after the riots. The police did not look for CCTV footage. Clearly, the police were lackadaisical, and singularly uninterested. The Modi Government and the Bharatiya Janata Party cannot just walk away, head held high. Like the judge said, it was not “some kind of divine intervention” that made the Delhi Police believe that the “case as worked out.” The Delhi Police perhaps forgot that God helps only those who help themselves.

Bottom-line: Accountability should kick in and heads should roll, from the top down. The Home Ministry which runs the Delhi Police has to own the blame for police lapses. The buck stops at North Block.

(IPA Service)

Views are personal

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