After People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the Culture Workers’ Support Trust (CWST) has also called out Delhi Police over its investigation into the Delhi riots.
In a statement signed by over 600 people, the organisation condemned the “harassment of members of the creative community” who they said are being targeted for exercising their democratic right to raise their voice against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, the National Register of Citizens, the National Population Register and “state-sponsored brutality during the anti-CAA protests”.
The signatories, which include students, academics and artists, said that naming of documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy in the supplementary charge sheet as a co-conspirator in the Delhi riots and summoning filmmaker Saba Dewan for questioning are highly objectionable.
The Delhi Police’s Special Cell had summoned Roy and Dewan for questioning on Monday, according to reports.
The signatories said it is “unacceptable that dissenting artists, academicians, activists, journalists and others are being harassed with digressive investigations, and arrested based on fabricated and forced confessions.”
The statement also said that “unleashing a witch-hunt against creative communities, activists, students and relief workers by alleging a ‘riots conspiracy’ reveals the machination of people in positions of power to conceal the true identity of conspirators who, through their incendiary speech acts, triggered the worst communal riots the city of Delhi has seen in decades.”
“Not only is the Delhi Police cynically using this event to target dissenting voices, it is also denying justice to those who have suffered and died during the riots.”
Violence erupted in Northeast Delhi a day after BJP leader Kapil Mishra gave an ultimatum to the police to clear out anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters from Jaffrabad. He made the speech in the presence of Ved Prakash Surya, the DCP (Northeast) of Seelampur, but the Delhi Police is yet to question him.
Retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro Wednesday had written an open letter to the Delhi Police saying it was taking action against “peaceful protesters” while ignoring BJP leaders who had made communal public speeches in the days leading up to the riots.
Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava had defended the investigation saying the police “had questioned persons without regard to their religion and party affiliation”
Ribeiro responded to Shrivastava letter, saying the Delhi police chief had not addressed why its probe ignored speeches by BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma.
“I realise that it is difficult, indeed impossible, to justify the licence given to the three BJP stalwarts I named — licence to rant, rave and threaten those were peacefully protesting perceived wrongs. If the speakers were Muslims or Leftists, the police would have surely taken them in for sedition,” he wrote.
PUCL also wrote to Srivastava this week and expressed concern over news reports alleging bias in Delhi Police’s investigation in the Delhi riots.
Urging the police commissioner to ensure a fair and just investigation into the violence, PUCL had said, “The fact that the police is not investigating the role played by BJP leaders, like Kapil Mishra and others, in actually instigating and promoting the violence, despite so much electronic evidence of speeches, social media posts being available only deepens our concern.”
A Delhi court on Thursday took cognisance of a chargesheet filed by Delhi police under the UAPA and other legal provisions against 15 persons for larger conspiracy in the February riots in Delhi.
Those named in the charge sheet are ex-AAP councillor Taahir Hussain, ex-Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Millia Islamia students Asif Iqbal Tanha, Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar. Pinjra Tod members Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal are also named in the chargesheet.
A Delhi court on Thursday granted bail to Narwal in a case related to the riots, but she will not be released as she has also been booked under UAPA in another case related to the riots, PTI reported.
(With PTI inputs)