Damning report indicts BJP over 2020 Delhi riots

Citizens Committee flags state failure in protecting Muslims

APP October 15, 2022
Policemen patrol in a riot affected area after clashes erupted between people demonstrating for and against a new citizenship law in New Delhi, India, February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui


A Citizens Committee, comprising several senior judges of India, issued a damning report on the 2020 Delhi riots, accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of fomenting anti-Muslim sentiments and flagged the failure of state machinery in protecting the Muslims.

The committee chaired by Justice Madan B Lokur, a former Judge of India’s Supreme Court, in its report, titled ‘Uncertain Justice: A Citizens Committee Report on the North East Delhi Violence 2020’, also condemned the vilification of the Muslims in the Indian media.

The committee comprised Justice AP Shah, former chief justice of the Madras and Delhi high courts and former chairman of the Law Commission, Justice RS Sodhi, former judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice Anjana Prakash, former judge of the Patna High Court, and former home secretary GK Pillai.

The report delved into the factors which led to the killing of 53 people after Hindu fanatics launched attacks on protestors, who were demanding the repeal of Citizenship (Amendment) Act(CAA), 2019, passed by the Indian parliament.

”The Muslim community was grappling with deep fears of loss of citizenship, stemming from the combined effect of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA), passed in December 2019, with potential exclusion through the National Register of Citizens process,” the report said.

Based on legal documents, including first information reports (FIRs), charge-sheets, and court orders, the report highlighted the “state failures”, including those of the Delhi police, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Delhi government, as well as the “irresponsible role” played by the Indian media.

”Speeches, statements and slogans by BJP functionaries, prominently Kapil Mishra and Anurag Thakur, characterised the protesters as traitors, enemies, and violent troublemakers, within a divisive Hindu-Muslim binary,” the report stated.

“Calls for violence against the so-called ‘traitors’, in the form of the “Goli Maaro” (shoot the traitors) slogan, were casually repeated, with no censure. The vilification of the protests and anti-Muslim hate was amplified by widely viewed television news channels and social media,” it added.

In 171-page report, authored by Justice Lokur, the senior Indian judges observed that Delhi police failed to prevent the violence even though there were enough warning signs since January 2020, indicating a tense build-up. ”There were also instances of police complicity of varying degrees,” the report added.

Amid warning signs, the committee also accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi of doing “precious little” during this entire time to mediate between the communities, while mobs clashed and caused damage to each other.

“Muslim identity, ranging from individuals to homes, businesses, and places of worship, was targeted. This grim mix of targeted, as well as generalised violence, resulted in the death of 40 Muslims and 13 Hindus, the report said.

The Citizens committee report also highlighted the targeted application of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) – an anti-terror legislation – into one of the FIRs connected with the riots, severely restricting the avenues of the accused to get bail during the trial.

The report condemned news media for mirroring the politicians’ hate narrative directed at anti-CAA protesters and Muslims. It said that the social media platforms were widely used to propagate divisive Hindu-Muslim narratives and calls for violence.

The analysis of top-six most-viewed Indian television news channels by the committee revelled that reportage of events surrounding the CAA framed the issues as “Hindus versus Muslims” with prejudice and suspicion against the Muslim community.

”These channels concentrated on vilifying anti-CAA protests, fanning unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, and calling for their forcible shutdown,” the report said. It recommended the formation of a commission of inquiry for an impartial inquiry to establish the whole gamut of factors pertaining to the violence.


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