Delhi Police ‘admits’ arresting people without evidence and for ‘personal’ reasons

A notification issued by Special Commissioner of Delhi Police Praveer Ranjan appears to accept extra-judicial arrests in advising ‘due care and precaution’ while making arrests

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)

Faraz Ahmad

Special Commissioner of Delhi Police (Special CP) Praveer Ranjan issued an order on July 8 to the Delhi Police to take “due care and precaution while making arrests of “some Hindu youth” from riot hit areas in North East Delhi.

The order stated that arrest of “some Hindu youth” from riot hit areas in North-east Delhi had led to a “degree of resentment among the Hindu community”. Significantly, it raises no question on the culpability of the arrested “Hindu youth.” Instead it cites an “intelligence input” about resentment over riot related-arrest of “some Hindu youth from Chand Bagh and Khajuri Khas areas of Northeast Delhi.”

It said that the “community representatives are alleging that these arrests were made without any evidence ( so, police does arrest people without any evidence ?) and are even insinuating that such arrests are being made for personal reasons ( so, there. Police do arrest people for personal reasons !)". In the same area, resentment among Hindu community is also reported for alleged police inaction “ against two local Muslims, who were allegedly involved in mobilising members of the Muslim community during the Delhi riots and anti-CAA protests.” It was clearly a crime to mobilise Muslims but not a crime when it came to mobilising Hindus.

The fact-finding committee of the Delhi Minorities Commission in its report has indicted the role of Delhi Police. The major findings of the report can be read here:

Even during the lockdown, police had been busy summoning Muslim youth and arresting many of them. Often the arrests and questioning were provoked by their audacity in lodging complaints against the extremist elements among Hindus and against complicity by the police. In mid-April when the coronavirus was spreading like wildfire, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting of Delhi Police officers and ordered them to speed up arrests and detention of people allegedly involved in the riot.

It was after this meeting that Safoora Zargar, a PhD scholar of Jamia Millia Islamia who happened to be pregnant at the time and with an outstanding academic record, was arrested for mobilsing women to participate in the anti-CAA demonstrations in East Delhi, close to where she lived with her young husband.

After two and a half month of incarceration in Tihar jail and several rejections by lower courts of her bail application, finally, the Delhi High Court granted her bail on June 23 on “humanitarian grounds” even though the charge sheet nowhere mentions anywhere that she was involved in any violent activity or instigation.

Same is the case with Sharjeel Imam or Sharjeel Usmani or Umar Khalid (though not arrested yet) and many others, who Delhi police has arrested or booked for being present at anti-CAA protests. Significantly, Delhi Police has found no evidence to book BJP rabble-rouser Kapil Mishra, one of the main instigators of violence, or against Kapil Bainsala who shot at Jamia demonstrators in full view of the Police.

While political parties and politicians, BJP and the RSS are free to make political statements and dub peaceful demonstrators as anti-national and traitors, police surely is bound by the law and sections of IPC and Cr.PC and not what the ruling elite might believe in. But its conduct has raised suspicion that it is acting as a coercive instrument for majoritarian and rabid elements in the ruling elite.

That’s exactly what Devangana Kalita said in her tweets commenting on the communal bias of Delhi Police. She and Natasha Narwal, both JNU students, participated in anti-CAA protests. Delhi Police slapped the stringent UAPA against these two young students as well. Here again, the Police have compared their participation in a peaceful demonstration for restitution of Constitutional safeguards as an anti-national act.

While opposing their bail petition, Delhi Police had this to say. “It has been found that during protests against the CAA, a group of highly qualified ladies including Narwal, in a continuous process, directly or indirectly, instigated common Muslim people to protest against the Government of India stating that CAA is totally against the Muslims, and bypassing the law, the Centre may sack Muslims from India….it was revealed that Narwal along with her associates were actively participating to cause riots in Delhi with the sole motive to disturb peace and law and order situation in the national capital."

Ironically it was the Union Home Minister Amit Shah who went around the country making public speeches and giving TV interviews saying, “Aap chronology samajhiye; pehle CAB ayega, phir NPR ayega phir NRC (first we will bring in CA Bill, then the National Population Register (NPR) and finally the National Register for Citizens (NRC)."

He went around asking the people in his public speeches, “In termites ko nikalna chahiye ki nahin; nikalna chahiye ki nahin (shouldn’t we get rid of these termites; shouldn’t we).”

But after such clarity on this issue if people were peacefully protesting against the CAA, how did protestors become instigators? They were actually reacting to the instigation. How did this go against the Rule of Law ? If Kalita therefore suspects that Delhi Police acted like a “massive Hindutva machinery” who can blame her?

The Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi told Justice Vibhu Bakhru of Delhi High Court, "What they (Kalita and Narwal) are saying is that by prosecuting them…the massive Hindutva machinery is at stake for the purpose of making criminals of innocent people…This is reprehensible…Are you going to communalise the police, by presenting in this manner,” adding, “whatever the opinion maybe the comment has to be civilised..It is nothing but damage to our country…”.

Lekhi perhaps missed reading the July 8 order of Special Commissioner of Delhi Police, Praveer Ranjan. He better go through it again before counselling Devangana Kalita.

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