In Northeast Delhi riots case, court grants bail to three accused, criticises investigation and charge sheet

Published : January 06, 2021 18:53 IST

Paramilitary personnel deployed in the Shiv Vihar area of Northeast Delhi, which witnessed most of the violence during the riots, on March 14, 2020. Photo: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

On January 4, while granting bail to three persons accused of violence in the Northeast Delhi riots of February 2020, a Delhi court made stinging remarks against the police investigation in the matter. Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat, while granting bail to Gulfam alias Sonu Chikna, Aatir, and Osama, stated that the May 22, 2020, charge sheet in the matter was filed in a “very lackadaisical manner”.

He observed, “After going through the bail applications, reply and particularly charge sheet, I cannot help but notice the carelessness with which the charge sheet has been prepared and filed. The investigation carried out, is perfunctory. The list of witnesses filed, mentions some witnesses. However, no statement under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedural Code of any of the witnesses has been filed with the charge sheet.”

Considering the period of custody undergone by the three, and the nature of investigation and the charge sheet, all three bail applications under Section 439 of the CrPC were approved on bail bonds of Rs 10,000 each.

The three were arrested under FIR 107/2020 registered at the Jafrabad Police Station. Aatir and Gulfam were formally arrested on April 8 from Mandoli Jail, while Osama was formally arrested on April 10 from Tihar Jail.

They were arrested on the basis of a complaint filed by a fruit seller, Nasir Ahmad, who alleged that on February 25, a group of more than 100 people looted fruits worth Rs2 lakh from his godown in Bhojpur, and burnt two reharis [hand carts]. An FIR was lodged under sections 147, 148, 149, 427, 380, 436 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.

Earlier, too, courts have granted bail to many of those arrested on trumped up charges of rioting in Northeast Delhi on similar grounds of shoddy investigation. For instance, in November, Justice Suresh Kumar Kait granted bail to Saiyad Iftikhar after noting that there were no CDRs [call detail records] to show that he was present at the site of violence on the particular day. The court noted that though Iftikhar has a power of minus 3.75, he was not wearing spectacles in the CCTV footage on the basis of which he was arrested along with co-accused Ali Hasan. “The alleged incident is dated February 24 at 21:31:50 hour. Thus, it cannot be believed that a person having such weak eyesight would have clear vision at night without spectacles. Moreover, CDR is not on record, whereby it could have been established that the petitioner was available at the site,” the court said.

Last year, on February 24, communal violence broke out in northeast Delhi leaving at least 53 people dead and more than 400 injured. The violence took place in the backdrop of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. According to a Delhi Police affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court in July 2020, a total of 1,430 people were arrested for the violence in more than 750 cases.

A report titled ‘Delhi Riots of 2020: Causes, Fallout and Aftermath’ edited by Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh, states: “Though the affidavit takes pains to try and minimise the destruction and arson suffered by Muslims, and seeks to suggest that both Hindus and Muslims suffered, analysis reveals that 40 out of 52 civilian deaths (apart from a Head Constable who died of gunshot injuries), 85-90 per cent of homes destroyed, 80-85 per cent of shops destroyed, and destruction of the vast majority of vehicles, were suffered by the Muslims. An indication of the disproportionate impact of the violence is provided by the fact that the 1,000 people who sought refuge in a relief camp organised at Mustafabad Idgah, and uncounted others who fled to their villages or took shelter in 9 smaller relief camps organised by the Delhi Government, were almost exclusively Muslim.”