Delhi riots: Minority panel report slams Kapil Mishra’s ‘vigilantism’

The Delhi Minorities Commission on Thursday said that the Delhi Police could have averted the violence in the capital’s northeast area in February and saved several lives had they arrested or apprehended BJP leader Kapil Mishra.

The commission’s ten-member fact finding committee, headed by Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record M.R. Shamshad, has come out with a report on the riots which had broken out in the national capital.

According to the report, at least 55 people died and property, including homes, shops and 22 places of worship, were destroyed during the riots.

The commission said that the violence started in different pockets “almost immediately” after the short speech of Mishra on February 23 at Maujpur in which he openly called for forcefully removing the protestors at Jafrabad in northeast Delhi.

“He clearly said that he and his supporters will take matters into their own hands, alluding to extra-legal vigilante tactics, in saying: ‘But after that we will not listen to the police if roads are not cleared after three days…’,” the report stated.

The committee said that Deputy Commissioner of Police, North East district, Ved Prakash Surya, was standing right next to Mishra when he made the incendiary speech.

The report added: “The open admission of ‘not listening’ to the police and extra-legal tactics should have been seen by the authorities present as inciting violence.”

Alluding to the alleged speech, the committee said: “At this point, the police failed to apprehend and arrest Kapil Mishra and all those gathered to hear and cheered his speech. This indicates that they failed to take the first and most immediate preventive step needed to avoid violence from arising and protect life and property.”

Following the speech, mobs fanned out to the local areas, openly carrying various weapons and arms, the report stated, adding that despite this, sufficient action was not taken by the district administration or police to protect life and property.

The commission held the Delhi Police responsible and said that the failure to prevent violence was not due to individual or sporadic breaches but was a pattern of deliberate inaction over several days. “Further, in spite of the serious nature of complaints, the police did not act upon the FIRs filed.”

The report stated that the perpetrators positioned themselves strategically in the residential areas, adding that it points to no “spontaneity” in the case of a riot.

“The attacks were selectively targeted towards the Muslim population of the area. In some instances, victims were asked to show their ID cards and then targeted on the basis of their faith,” it added.

It said that “mobs numbering between 100-1000 people, chanted slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Har Har Modi’, ‘Modiji, kaat do in Mullon ko (Modi, cut these Muslims into pieces)’, ‘Aaj tumhe azadi denge (Today, we will give you freedom)’ and attacked Muslim individuals, houses, shops, vehicles, mosques and other property”.

The report asserted that Muslim youth pelted stones on the mobs in some places to defend family members in response to the targeted attacks. “Barring one incident, there have not been reports of Muslims being armed with weapons other than stones,” the report divulged.

It listed 22 List of mosques, dargahs, madrasas and graveyars which were attacked and vandalised during the riots. Out of the total, 16 were mosques.

The committee said that the police were also complicit and abetted the attacks. “Where police did act, victims state that police stopped their colleagues when they attempted to disperse the crowd.”

In some cases, they merely stood as onlookers while the mobs engaged in violence. In others, they explicitly gave a go-ahead to the perpetrators to continue with their rampage, the committee report added.

It also pointed at the credibility of the entire investigation process and said that the failure of the police to register the FIRs pertaining to complaints in which the accused are named raises serious doubts.

“Submission of chargesheets without proper investigation into complaints… creates doubts about the impartiality and objectivity of the investigation as well as the overall narrative being put forward by Delhi Police.”