Petitioners with ‘undisclosed agenda’: Delhi police while clean chit to Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur in Delhi violence

While submitting an affidavit before the Delhi High Court claiming that no evidence has surfaced so far to indicate any role played by BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma in either instigating or participating in the northeast Delhi violence, Delhi Police has argued that the use of terms like ‘political vendetta’, ‘state-sponsored pogrom’, ‘persecution’ and ‘malicious prosecution’ etc. clearly appears to be part of some undisclosed agenda when facts clearly show otherwise and clearly reflect lack of bonafides.

The affidavit sworn by Rajesh Deo, Deputy Commissioner of Police, is submitted before the Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan in response to a batch of writ petitions seeking registration of FIRs in respect of statements which instigated ant-Muslim riots in the national capital.

The affidavit further claims that the prima facie investigation has revealed that the said riots did not occur due to any ‘sporadic or spontaneous violence’ but appears to be a part of a well thought of ‘conspiracy to destabilise the harmony in the society’.

“Petitioners have selectively chosen certain speeches and incidents to further their hidden agenda. It is stated that the selective outrage by the petitioners towards specific incidents, while ignoring other abhorrent incident of violence, itself manifest that the present petitions are not bonafide but motivated. It is the bonafide belief of the deponent that the present case is nothing but repetition of the same mischief which was called out and cautioned by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Tehseen Poonantalla u. Union of India,” the document reads.

Road blockage is not a facet of fundamental right: Delhi police

While calling anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters as the conspirators of violence, police stated that that the encroachment and blockage of public roads is certainly not a facet of fundamental right of protest.

“… exercising the fundamental right of dissent is and should be respected. However, no person can be allowed to commit breach of law, indulge in violence, arson and riotous activity causing danger to life, limb and property of innocent citizens under the garb of exercise of fundamental right of free speech and assembly. I respectfully state and submit that the encroachment and blockage of public roads is certainly not a facet of fundamental right of protest,” it said.

HC’s immediate response in Mishra’s speech

On 26 February, a bench headed by then Delhi High Court Justice Dr. S Muralidhar had played the videos containing the anti-Muslim speeches of Kapil Mishra for the viewing of police officers.

Justice S. Muralidhar also slammed a Delhi police officer for saying he had not watched the video in which BJP leader Kapil Mishra issued threats to those protesting against the CAA. Clips of speeches made by Thakur, Verma and MLA Abhay Verma were also played in court. Thakur and Abhay Verma led crowds to chant ‘shoot the traitors’, while Parvesh Verma accused the peaceful protesters at Shahen Bagh ‘rapists and murderers’.

The bench of Justices Muralidhar and Talwant Singh was hearing a petition, filed by civil rights activist Harsh Mander, that sought FIRs to be registered against three BJP leaders, saying their hate speeches had resulted in the anti-Muslim pogrom in the national capital.

On the same day, Solicitor general Tushar Mehta and Justice Muralidhar engaged in an animated debate during the hearing, most notably when the former said that the police cannot do anything at the moment because the situation is delicate. He said that FIRs will be “registered at an appropriate stage”. Justice Muralidhar responded, saying, “Which is that appropriate stage? After the city  has burnt down?”

The anti-Muslim violence in northeast Delhi in February is widely acknowledged to have been sparked by incendiary comments made by Kapil Mishra, about Muslims peacefully protesting against ‘anti-Muslim and unconstitutional’ citizenship law. Video evidence and witness accounts pointed to police allowing Hindu mobs to roam the streets freely to target the Muslim community.

Many complaints, no single FIR against Mishra

In more than 20 police complaints in relation to the Delhi violence, the complainants claimed seeing BJP leader Kapil Mishra and his followers take part in the instigation of the anti-Muslim riot.

Rubina Bano, a resident of Chand Bagh in northeast Delhi, filed a police complaint in relation to the Delhi violence on 18 March and wrote to police that just before the policemen began their attack, she heard Anuj Kumar, the assistant commissioner of the Gokulpuri police station, assure BJP leader Kapil Mishra over the phone, “Don’t worry, we will strew the streets with their dead bodies such that it will be remembered for generations.”

The Delhi Police did not register Bano’s complaint as an FIR.