Delhi pogrom: Court drops arson charges, says police trying to cover flaws

Delhi pogrom

A Delhi court on Wednesday dropped arson charges against 10 Muslims who had allegedly damaged shops during the anti-Muslim pogrom in February 2020.

The court noted that the police was “attempting to cover” a flaw in its investigation, PTI reported.

The anti-Muslim pogrom unleashed in the last week of February 2020 in Northeast Delhi killed at least 54 people, mostly Muslims. Hindutva groups mobilised to sabotage anti- Citizenship Amendment Act sit-in protest which led to violence for a week in the national capital rendering thousands homeless.

The judge noted that the police had clubbed the two complaints, which he said cannot be done until there is clear evidence that the same rioters were involved in both the incidents.

Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav observed that one of the complainants alleged that his shop was looted at Delhi’s Brijpuri Road on February 25, 2020, while the shops of other complainant was attacked the previous day.

The judge also observed that none of the complaints, in their initial statements, mentioned that a mob committed “mischief by fire or [an] explosive substance” – something that would suggest a case of arson, The Scroll reported.

“In view of the aforesaid discussion, I am of the considered view that ingredients of Section 436 of the Indian Penal Code [mischief by fire or explosive substance] are not at all made out from the material produced on record by the investigating agency,” the judge said.

The judge also clarified that arson charges cannot be framed based on the statements of police officials who were beat officers in the area at the time of the incident and directed the case to be transferred to the chief metropolitan magistrate.

In September alone, the Delhi courts have rebuked the police four times for “lackadaisical investigation” into cases related to the violence.

Critics of BJP government has repeatedly discredited the investigations of Delhi police in Delhi pogrom citing their role in violence. Visuals and ground reports proved police were complicit in the violence.