Mobs chanted slogans like “Har Har Modi”, “Modiji, kaat do in ***** ko (Modi, cut these Muslims into pieces)”, “Aaj tumhe aazadi denge (today, we will give you freedom)” as they selectively attacked Muslim individuals, their properties and mosques, during the communal violence that erupted in the national capital this February, according to a ‘report of the fact-finding committee’, set up by the Delhi Minorities Commission.
The report by the committee, headed by MR Shamshad, advocate-on-record, Supreme Court, came nearly five months after the communal violence, which took place between 23 and 26 February, during which at least 53 people were killed while a hundred others were injured. Also, property worth hundreds of crores was destroyed during the violence.
The committee’s report said the violence erupted immediately after BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s speech, “in which he openly called for forcefully removing the protesters at Jafrabad in North East Delhi”. The report referred to the anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protesters who had been demonstrating against the “discriminatory law” passed in the Parliament in December.
During his speech, Mishra had said that he and his supporters would take matters into their own hands, it said. “But after that, we will not listen to the police if roads are not cleared after three days…,” the report quoted Mishra, and said the open admission of “not listening” to police and extra-legal tactics should have been seen as inciting violence.
The report said that Deputy Commissioner of Police, North East district, Shri Ved Prakash Surya, was present right next to Mishra when he had delivered the speech in question, but still the police failed to apprehend and arrest him and all those gathered to hear and cheered his speech.
Immediately after Mishra’s speech, it said, different mobs fanned out to the nearby localities, “openly carrying various weapons and arms like petrol bombs, iron rods, gas cylinders, stones and even firearms.”
It further noted that in the run-up to the February 8 Delhi assembly elections, several BJP politicians openly made “communal statements… with reference to people protesting against the CAA.” The report also cited MoS Anurag Thakur’s infamous “shoot the traitors” remark at a campaign rally in Delhi.
“Similarly in Delhi, several elected leaders of the BJP, including those holding Cabinet positions such as the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Minister of Animal Husbandry Giriraj Singh, Former MLA of Karawal Nagar and BJP leader Kapil Mishra, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath among many others, made provocative, threatening speeches against the protestors.”
The report said the violence followed an organised and systematic pattern. “Different mobs numbering anywhere between 100-1000 people, chanting common slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’, and even “Har Har Modi”, “Modiji, kaat do in ***** ko (Modi, cut these Muslims into pieces)”, “Aaj tumhe aazadi denge (Today, we will give you freedom)”, selectively attacked Muslim individuals, houses, shops, vehicles, mosques and other property.”
Both locals and outsiders were present in the mobs that unleashed violence, the report noted quoting the victims, who even said that some of the perpetrators had even threatened them prior to the violence. “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,” the report noted.
It pointed out that properties owned by Muslims were destroyed and looted, while those owned by Hindus, even though standing adjacent to the targeted properties, remained unscathed. “In some instances, where the owners were Hindus but the property had been rented to Muslims, the building was not damaged but the moveable property was looted or burnt outside the premises.”
Mobs specifically vandalised Muslim places of worship, namely mosques and madrasas as well as religious symbols like copies of the Holy Quran, the report said. It said that police officers were either mute spectators or, in some cases, even alleged participants in the violence. In most of the cases, CCTV cameras on the premises were destroyed, it said.
The 134-page report said that multiple testimonies collected by the committee have alleged police inaction even as the violence unfolded before them, or of police not arriving despite being called repeatedly. In multiple testimonies, victims of violence have reported that FIRs have either been delayed or have not been acted upon, it said.
In another major allegation, the report 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,” it said.
The report said some testimonies even allege that police personnel engaged in direct violence. It cited the incident where some cops were seen thrashing five Muslim boys while asking them to sing the national anthem. A video clip of this incident had then gone viral. One of the victims died some days later, it said.
In some cases, the report said, victims who had filed complaints were arrested while some of them were asked to “compromise” with those they had named as accused in their complaints.