Citizens Committee Led by Former Judges to Probe Delhi Riots

A scene of riots in Delhi. Photo: Reuters
A scene of riots in Delhi. Photo: Reuters

The Committee will be allowed to formulate its own procedure and will submit a final report within 12 weeks of starting its work.

By Rakesh Raman

As serious questions are being raised about the integrity of investigations being carried out by Delhi Police into February communal violence that took place in New Delhi, a group of former judges and civil servants has decided to hold an independent probe.

The Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG) – comprising former civil servants who worked with the Central government as well as different state governments – has constituted a committee of six former public functionaries to investigate the factors behind violence in North-East Delhi.

The committee, called ‘Citizens Committee on the Delhi Riots of February 2020: Context, Events and Aftermath’, will comprise former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur, former Chief Justice of the Madras and Delhi high courts and former chairman, Law Commission Justice A.P. Shah, former judge of the Delhi high court Justice R.S. Sodhi, former judge of the Patna high court Justice Anjana Prakash, former Union home secretary G.K. Pillai, and former director-general of the Bureau of Police Research and Development Meeran Chadha Borwankar.

According to a report of October 11 by The Wire news service, the Committee will be allowed to formulate its own procedure and will submit a final report within 12 weeks of starting its work.

DELHI COMMUNAL VIOLENCE

The violence in Delhi took place when the government headed by PM Narendra Modi failed to stop the peaceful protests by citizens who were demanding the revocation of discriminatory citizenship laws (such as the Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA) introduced by the government.

In order to describe the violence, an international human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report under the title: “Shoot the Traitors: Discrimination Against Muslims under India’s New Citizenship Policy.”

The report states that after the hateful speeches of BJP (Modi’s political party) leaders, at least 52 people were killed in the three days of communal violence that broke out in India’s capital New Delhi.

The HRW report further explains that BJP leaders – who mostly act as mobsters – derided the protesters or more dangerously called them anti-national and pro-Pakistan.

Addressing a mob of BJP goons, a minister in PM Modi’s government described the protesters as “Pakistani hooligans,” while others led a chant to “shoot the traitors,” inciting violence.

The violence in Delhi, according to the report, began soon after a local BJP politician Kapil Mishra, who had earlier led a large demonstration calling to “shoot” the protesters, posted a video in which he gave an ultimatum to the police, threatening to take the matter into his own hands if the police did not clear the roads of protesters in three days.

Over 200 were injured, properties destroyed, and communities displaced in targeted attacks allegedly carried out by Hindu mobs. While a policeman and some Hindus were also killed, the majority of victims were Muslim, the report describes.

COMPLICIT POLICE AND WEAK COURTS

Usually, the police and courts do not take action against the BJP government and BJP leaders. The police officers have seen the horrific case of Gujarat riots whistleblower Sanjiv Bhatt who tried to raise his voice against Modi (who was then the chief minister of Gujarat) in the case related to Gujarat pogrom of 2002 in which over 2,000 people – mostly Muslims – were murdered.

Bhatt has been implicated in a custodial death case of 1990 and serving life imprisonment under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Shweta Sanjiv Bhatt, the wife of Sanjiv Bhatt, maintains that it is a fabricated case in which his husband has been falsely implicated.

Similarly, most judges must be scared after witnessing the fate of judge Loya (Brijgopal Harikishan Loya) who had died in mysterious circumstances. In this case, BJP leader Amit Shah – who is now the Home Minister of India – was the prime accused.

Although the demands for fair investigation into Delhi riots are increasing, no investigation or investigating officer can dare to point the finger at Amit Shah who controls Delhi Police. Judges and investigating officers know if judge Loya can die in an inexplicable manner, they also can be made to face the same fate.

Earlier it had happened in Vyapam scam in which, like Amit Shah, another BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was an accused. As the investigation into the Vyapam case was progressing, the witnesses and others familiar with the case started disappearing.

A Special Task Force (STF) submitted a list to high court in 2015 informing that 23 people died “unnatural death.” Some media reports claimed that more than 40 people associated with the Vyapam scam had died under mysterious circumstances.

Obviously, most witnesses, police officers, and judges will not dare to go against the will of Modi and his associate – Home Minister Amit Shah. Now, many observers believe that India is fast becoming a dictatorial state like China, North Korea, and Russia where the government critics are executed under false charges or killed secretly by poisoning or shooting them.

Therefore, the activists in India who oppose Modi and Shah must get ready to face such eventualities.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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