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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 17, April 22, 2023

Report on Jahangirpuri Communal Incident, Delhi, 2022 alleges bias | PUDR, April 17, 2023

Saturday 22 April 2023


Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)

17 April 2023

Release of PUDR’s Report

PUDR report on Jahangirpuri Communal Incident, Delhi, 2022 alleges bias against Muslims

One year has passed since the communal incident at Jahangirpuri on Hanuman Jayanti. PUDR is releasing a report ‘Probing the Jahangirpuri Communal Incident, Delhi, 2022: Context, Aftermath, Police Investigation & Findings’. The key finding of the report is that the investigations and prosecution case is seeking to hide the participation of both Hindus and Muslims, and present the incident as an outcome of a conspiracy of some Muslims.

PUDR carried out an investigation into the clash between Hindus and Muslims in the area on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti on 16 April 2022. The investigating team spoke to residents from diverse backgrounds in blocks C, G and H in Jahangirpuri, to the police at Jahangirpuri Police Station, the Crime Branch, lawyers and journalists, at the time of occurrence and in the aftermath of the clash. PUDR was also able to discuss at length with some of the lawyers of the accused about the main chargesheet FIR 440/22, Jahangirpuri PS, one of the two FIRs filed in the matter. The present report is based on all of the above. As the title states, it examines the incident and its aftermath, including aspects of the police investigation, and the making of the official narrative on the incident.

Some key points the report makes are:

1. There is a significant difference apparently, between what we learnt is the police version of the communal incident, supposed to be the outcome of investigation, and the account of the incident reported across large sections of the media at the time, and verified by PUDR. While all contemporary reports indicated that both Hindus and Muslims participated in the flare-up, the official police version apparently suggests that the incident was the result of a one-sided conspiracy by some Muslims. The PUDR report shows that in doing this the police seem to have primarily examined Hindu witnesses (in an incident of an inter-religious clash) and witnesses examined included several members/office bearers of Antarashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal etc. (p.7-8) They have also neglected evidence that they have apparently themselves collected in the process of investigation while re-framing the incident as one-sided (p.9-10*). The notion of ‘conspiracy’ appears to have guided the investigation from a very early stage, and became the basis for registering charges under S. 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) against all Muslim accused. Many more Muslims were identified as accused (39 out of 45 accused were Muslim, and 38 were arrested in the course of the past year, several spent months in jail). Evidence for this so-called ‘conspiracy’ seems to be extremely tenuous, i.e., alleged linkage of accused with CAA NRC protests of 2020, proof of them simply going to the protests on certain days/organizing buses to go etc., are apparently considered adequate basis to support the allegation of ‘conspiracy’(pp. 8-9 and p. 11).

2. The police seem to have neglected to adequately investigate the participation of Hindus in the communal incident. Not only did this mean that only 6 Hindus were arrested under different charges, the fact that the fate of the investigation into the other FIR (441/22 of Jahangirpuri PS) filed against those who took out the Hanuman Jayanti procession without permission is unclear and it was filed under a single far milder section of IPC, which had certain issues attached to it is revealing of the police bias (p.8).

3. Questions can be raised about the kind of evidence the police have apparently relied on to justify their version of events. They have apparently mainly looked at CCTV and call records, disclosure statements by arrested accused and neglected standard methods of investigation (such as Test Identification Parades for instance), and firm evidence actually connecting accused to particular crimes. It is significant that some of the Muslim accused have been granted bail on account of weaknesses of evidence (Discussed in report, see pp. 10-11).

4. The issue of prior communal mobilization in the area is neglected as a cause of the hostilities in Jahangirpuri, though ample evidence of this by Hindutva organisations could be found in the area at the time of the incident. The report draws attention to this and also to the prior planning involved in organizing the Hanuman Jayanti procession – arranging weapons, vehicles, clothes, music etc., and also to the media reports that had discussed the mobilization of Hindu youth against Muslims through whatsapp messages etc. prior to the incident. It questions why those who undertook and participated in this kind of mobilization were not identified, arrested and penalized, and why this mobilization could not be considered evidence of deliberate intent to create enmity or even as acts of violence themselves (p.5 and p. 12)

Connecting the incident to wider patterns of communal violence in the country and the city (pp. 13-14) this report raises PUDR’s demands for the quashing of the present chargesheet and a renewed investigation of the incident; release of all accused arrested under the FIR 440; prosecution of those who organised the Hanuman Jayanti procession without permission, adding effective sections to FIR 441, fresh and fair collection, assessment of evidence in all FIRs by an independent agency; renewed framing of charges, fairly, in an investigation monitored by a sitting High Court judge; and identification through enquiry, arrest, prosecution of state representatives guilty of such wrongful and biased investigation.

Joseph Mathai and Paramjeet Singh

*Page nos. refer to pages of present PUDR report, “Probing the Jahangirpuri Communal Incident, Delhi, 2022: Context, Aftermath, Police Investigation & Findings’, April 2023

For full report click here

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