Skip to main content

Peace, normalcy? People's tribunal on Delhi riots questions role of Amit Shah, cops

Counterview Desk
Drawing parallel with the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, a People's Tribunal on Delhi Carnage organised by human rights several organizations at the Constitution Club of India sharply criticised underreporting of the death count as also damages by Home Minister Amit Shah in the Lok Sabha on March 11, 2020 while addressing the house on riots.
Suggesting that evidence from the ground appears to be grimmer, about which a fact-finding report will soon be published, the hearing at the tribunal suggested, even now, after the riots have normalised, fear and apprehension continue, with the police refusing to file FIRs, or combining unrelated FIRs, thus making the process of acquiring justice that harder.
The issues that were discussed at the tribunal included anatomy of riots; trauma, fear and mistrust; role of police and state; control and prevention of violence; rescue, relief and rehabilitation; role of health systems in responding to riots; legal challenges; psychosocial relief and the role of the media.

A note:

Acknowledging the repressive onslaught due to planned riots to attack the residents of North-East Delhi and putting their lives, livelihoods and houses are at risk, Anhad had organised a ‘People’s Tribunal on Delhi Carnage’, in collaboration with Alliance Defending Freedom, Aman Biradari, Amnesty International India and Muslim Women's Forum.
More than 30 riot-victims and some prominent civil society activists gave testimonies in front of the jury for this tribunal that consisted of Justice AP Shah, Justice Aftab Alam, Prof. Apoorvanand, Harsh Mander, Pamela Philipose, Dr Syeda Hameed and Prof Tanika Sarkar.
The North-East Delhi riots were found similar to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, as minorities have been systematically attacked in a planned manner like in the past and state was complicit.
Witness reports have brought up the fact that not only were the police complicit with the mobs, they themselves attacked Muslims, threw tear gas shells at unarmed residents, encouraged the mob to attack by giving them protection and somehow providing the rioters police gear.
A resident of North East testified and said, “We called the police many times, but they never returned the calls, or simply humiliated us on the phone and said they can’t help. Furthermore, most told us to run away and that they are unable to reach us.”
Till now, police have confirmed 53 deaths, including a policeman and an intelligence officer, more than 200 people injured and 200 homes, shops, schools, vehicles and religious places burnt down. Many residents, mostly young men, are still missing, however, new bodies are being pulled out of the sewage canals and currently, identifying them is the hardest process.
Certain testimonies pointed out that given the possibility that some of the dead persons were migrants and not originally from the area, their deaths will go unaccounted for and their families may not receive any justice.
Apart from the death count, all other damages are under-reported by Home Minister Amit Shah in the Lok Sabha on March 11, 2020 while addressing the house on riots, as evidenced by our ground report that will soon be published after incorporating the recommendations from the jury.
Another testimony pointed out that, “There was organized loot that took place and targeted mostly Muslim shops. They were ransacked methodically and then burnt to the ground using petrol bombs and burning tires. In areas where Muslim owned shops and Hindu owned shops were set up side by side, the mob only harmed the ones owned by Muslims.”
Almost all the testifiers hinted towards the hopelessness they felt, the fear they were unable to shake off and the futility of the recovery process
The ability of Delhi Police to maintain the law and order to bring peace and normalcy back in riot-affected areas has been questioned by many riot-victims. As Delhi Police neither responded promptly when residents in these areas called 100, nor controlled the aggressive rioters that had been brought from outside Delhi to attack them.
Even now, after the riots have normalised fear and apprehension, the police is misreporting damages, refusing to file FIRs, or combining unrelated FIRs and thus making the process of acquiring justice that much harder. A resident testified saying, “My entire life’s worth has been burned down in one night.”
One important pattern that was brought up by the testifiers and the jury members was that medical help arrived too late due to police barricades, but when the victims went to hospitals, they were not given a dignified treatment.
Few hospitals like Al Hind and GTB successfully treated the victims, but there are reports of various private hospitals where not only were the victims refused help, the doctors also threatened Muslim victims and taunted them. There was delayed treatment, massive procedural fails and other systemic discriminations that are in direct opposition to the role that medical staffs are held up to.
Furthermore, the role that the Delhi High Court played in the presence of Justice Murlidhar was appreciated by all participants present in the tribunal. Before this order was put into effect, the local police that was supposedly at the scene, actively refused ambulances and medical help to reach the injured.
This has been observed as an act of inhumanity and it took a midnight hearing and order for the Police to act as per their duties. The intentions on the Centre government were also questioned on the issue of Justice Muralidhar's transfer notification to Punjab and Haryana High Court close to mid-night of 26th February, after he pulled up Delhi Police for falling to register FIRs against three BJP leaders, Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, and Parvesh Verma, for their hate speeches which purportedly let to the violence.
Almost all the testifiers hinted towards the hopelessness they felt, the fear they were unable to shake off and the futility of the recovery process. A resident who faced property loss said, “I have yet to receive any compensation but some of my institutions were on rented properties where the landlords belonged to the Hindu community. They have unceremoniously evicted us and told us they won’t rent to Muslim persons. If this isn’t financial and economic boycott, then what is it?”
Conclusively, after all the testimonies were heard, the jury made some key observations. They pointed out that members of both communities have lost property, life and faced damages to their homes, but statistically the rate of damages to Muslim households and businesses and most importantly lives was much larger.
Testimonies from both communities show that they were living in harmony and had no communal tensions, however, the eruption of violence has been triggered by vested media channels and politicians who have gone unchecked.
The jury also noted that the psycho-social damage that has happened for the communities, especially the women and the children of the Muslim communities cannot be measured. The trauma and the shock is yet to wear off as mistrust and fear are high in these areas, even weeks after the riots.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.

Top Catholic group wants quota for Dalit Christians, foreign fund licenses revived

By Our Representative
Reiterating its long-pending demand to give "scheduled rights for Dalit Christians”, the All-India Catholic Union (AICU) has regretted that while converts to Sikhism and Buddhism from the former untouchable, or Dalit communities, have been included in the scheduled caste (SC) category, Christians from the identical communities have been “kept out.”