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1000 citizens on Delhi riots probe: Process of law being short circuited, undermined

Counterview Desk

Calling upon the Delhi police to restore the public’s faith in investigation of the riots that shook the state capital in February 2020, about 1,000 citizens, in a statement, have said that there is “strong evidence” of coerced confessional statements from and manufactured evidence against anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) activists.
The signatories include filmmaker Aparna Sen; former culture secretary Jawahar Sircar; historian Ramchandra Guha; former chairperson, Delhi Minority Commission Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan; former governor Margaret Alva; academics Zoya Hasan, Partha Chatterjee; former senior civil servants Wajahat Habibullah, Madhu Bhaduri, Deb Mukherjee; former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Ramdas; and scientist Amitabha Basu.
The signatories have sought assurances from the Delhi Police Commissionerate that these practices will be stopped, even as seeking a fair and impartial investigation to book the real culprits of the riots.

Text:

We are alarmed by the news that on September 1, 2020, Umar Khalid sent a letter to Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava, with shocking evidence of the Delhi Police manufacturing evidence against him, through extorted statements. 
The letter reveals that a young man was interrogated by the Delhi Police (Special Cell) and a false confession against Umar Khalid, related to Delhi riots, was extracted and videotaped. The young man was threatened that he would be arrested under UAPA if he refused. He submitted to the coercion for he was scared, and yet his conscience allowed him to speak up about what had transpired.
We are gravely concerned that Dr Umar Khalid, a young scholar, already vilified and targeted relentlessly by a section of the media, is now being implicated in riots cases on the basis of manufactured evidence. Umar Khalid is not above the law, and must support any police investigation. But when the process of law is sought to be short circuited and undermined, then any citizen’s liberty is gravely threatened.
Umar Khalid
Other people have earlier reported being coerced during police interrogation in Delhi riots cases.
A scrutiny by independent media has found the following: 
In the Ankit Sharma charge-sheet (FIR 65/20), Dayalpur Police station, presented by the Delhi Police, there were 4 identical ‘confessional’ statements. There were seven identical statements in the Ratan Lal (FIR 60/20), Dayalpur police station, charge-sheet. And there were 10 identical statements in the Jaffrabad police station, (FIR 50/20) charge-sheet. In a fourth charge-sheet of the Dilbar Negi case (FIR number 39/20) Thana, Gokulpuri, the “Indian Express” found that nine out of 12 confessional statement were near verbatim copies of each other.
This pattern of coerced statements and false evidence is alarming. We ask the Delhi Police to confront this evidence of fabrication and coercion, uphold the sanctity of law and procedures, and conduct a fair and just investigation. So that the real culprits of the terrible violence that caused 53 deaths, injured hundreds and damaged property of thousands, are arrested.
We, as citizens of this country, bring on record our objections to the manner in which the North East Delhi Riot cases are being investigated, what this means for the rule of law, the protection of the civil liberties and booking of the real culprits.
It is important that the faith of the public be restored in the police. The investigation of the North East Delhi riots has undermined this faith as it is being undertaken in a prejudicial manner, targeting the anti-CAA protestors and supporters, alleging a conspiracy.
We seek an urgent assurance from the Delhi Police Commissionerate, that practices like extorting ‘confessions’ to manufacture evidence will be immediately ended; that those who indulge in them will be held accountable; and that no action will be taken against Umar Khalid or anyone else on the basis of these so called confessions and fabricated evidence.
Even these coerced confessional statements do not make for Unlawful Activities (Protection) Act (UAPA) offences, and invoking this law appears to be done without application of mind, to give acts the colour of a conspiracy against the state. We ask the police to drop the application of UAPA in all these cases.
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Click here for full list of signatories

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