Amnesty International Report on Delhi Riots

Amnesty International has released 19 page report about Delhi riots on 28th August 2020. Report contain Amnesty International India field investigation which document several Human Right Violations committed by the Delhi police during the riots on February 2020.
Amnesty International teams visited the different locations where the videos were shot & interviews the eyewitnesses & survivors. Riots took place over a span of six days (23 to 29 February 2020). Government data claimed at least 53 died and more than 500 injured at the time when President Trump was visiting India.

All India interviews 50 + riot survivors, eye witnesses, lawyers, human rights activists and even retire police officers. Experts also analyzed several videos on social media platforms to find out the role of Delhi Police during riots. These videos early showed Delhi Police pelting stones with rioters, torturing people, dismantling peaceful protest sites & being mute bystanders during riots.

Human Rights Violations by Delhi Police including officers indulging in violence with rioters; torturing in custody; using excessive force on protesters; dismantling protest sites used by peaceful protesters of CAA/ NRC & being mute bystanders as rioters wreaked havoc.
However Union Home Minister Amit Shah gave clean chit to Delhi Police in Lok Sabha on 11 March 20. This ongoing state- sponsored impunity Delhi Police enjoy sends across the message that the police can commit grave human rights violations & evade accountability. They are a law unto themselves.

Delhi Police filed more than 750 FIRs & at least 200 charge sheets, arrested several students & professors, human right activists for organizing these riots during CAA protest to internationally discredit Indian Govt.

Safoora Zargar, a pregnant woman student arrested but not a single Political Leader who made hate speeches & advocated violence prosecuted arrested till now.

During Delhi elections in February 2020, several Political Leaders made hateful speeches against the anti-CAA protesters demonizing them as ‘anti-nationals’ & inciting violence against them. These speeches were followed by violence on university campuses against those protesting CAA.
Delhi Police have not taken any action against the perpetrators leading to a climate of widespread impunity. On the other hand, their heavy-handed crowd-control tactics on university campuses are available on Social Media. Some incidents are: –

15 December 2019, four days after the enactment of CAA, the Delhi Police entered the campus of Jamia Milia Islamia University in New Delhi, brutally beat up & sexually harassed anti-CAA student protesters.

5 January 2020, a masked mob lay siege to Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi for more than two hours, injuring over two dozen students & teachers from the university.

The mob was allegedly armed with rods and sledge hammers as they intimidated the students by destroying campus property, entering hostel rooms & chanting slogans such as “Kill the leftists”, “Kill the Anti-Nationals” and “Desh ke Gaddaron ko, goli maaron saalon ‘ko” (The traitors must be shot dead).

Jawaharlal Nehru University have filed at least 40 complaints against the mob with the Delhi police. But Delhi police haven’t filed a single FIR into the incident as yet.

On 27 January, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in an election rally asked the audience to “press the (election voting machine) button with such anger that current is felt at Shaheen Bagh”.

On 28 January, a member of parliament Parvesh Verma belonging to BJP indulged in divisive fear-mongering & claimed that protesters from Shaheen Bagh would enter citizens’ homes & “rape your sisters, daughters & kill them. He also promised to “not leave even one of [the mosques] standing” after BJP’s election in Delhi.

On 30 January, shortly after the speeches of Thakur and Parvesh Verma, a man fired a pistol at a group of anti-CAA protesters, injuring a student before walking away in the presence of police shouting “Yeh lo Aazaadi”.

There have been several news & fact-finding reports, like a report filed by the Delhi Minority Commission documenting the violations.
This investigative report! brief also including the ongoing work done by students, civil society organizatons, journalists, lawyers & Delhi Minority

Commission to hold the Delhi police accountable.

On 17 February 20, Supreme Court in a case recognized the rights of those protesting peacefully in Shaheen Bagh against the CAA, except concern about blocking the roads.

On 23 February, BJP leader Kapil Mishra gave a number of offensive tweets, 3 days’ ultimatum to remove Shaheen Bagh protestors, or we will do it our self. Communal violence erupted on the evening of 23 February & continue till 29 February 20.

The riot that seemed far from spontaneous saw almost three times number of Muslim casualties compared to Hindus. Muslims also bore the brunt of loss of business & property.

As most parts of North-East Delhi were engulfed in the riots, max private clinics or hospitals were forced to close down. Majority of injured personnel were denied prompt & adequate medical care. A clear violation of Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, to which India is a state party.

75% of the cases were of firearm injuries. Many had pellet injuries, some had bullet injuries. Some were crushed. There were a few whose legs had been torn apart. Some Hindu were also target during the riots.

India is signatory of UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (UNCAT), but is yet to ratify & prohibits torture.

Lawyers handling the cases of riots survivors & detainees told AI India that Muslims were disproportionately detained & arrested by the Delhi Police after the riots.

The riot survivors have also maintained that Delhi Police intimidated & harassed many by unlawfully detaining them & forcing them to sign on blank papers.

Delhi Police started arresting Muslims on a mass scale immediately after the riots even though the minority community bore the brunt of the violence. “The police are doing this to intimidate [the Muslims] and create a fear of the police. This is done to protect members of the majority community & there are no complaints filed against the Hindus.

In both the 1984 Sikh massacre & February 2020 Delhi riots, Delhi Police committed grave Human Rights Violations with impunity afforded to them by the Government ,State, Politations & Police all has to be held accountable, only then this vicious cycle of violence will end & victims will get the justice.

The foremost being the launch of a prompt, immediate & independent investigation into the role of Delhi Police in the communal violence in preventing, investigating & prosecuting the communal violence and hate crimes that took place in February 2020.

Recommendations for India By Amnesty International

  • Ministry of Home Affairs to initiate a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into all allegations of human rights violations by law enforcement officials.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs to establish a fully independent, public and transparent inquiry to review the Delhi police’s role in failing to prevent and aiding the violence.
  • Suspend all police officers named by the communities pending investigation inquiry. Ensure in-service training on hate crimes and communal violence.
  • Create a comprehensive strategy aimed at preventing hate crimes against minority communities & guidelines for implementation of UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
  • Implement the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India.
  • Ratify, without reservations, the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) immediately. UNCAT requires that States criminalize torture in domestic law.
  • Indian Parliament to amend the laws governing the police at the State & Central level.
  • Indian National Human Right Commission (NHRC) to implement its own recommendation on establishing Human Rights Cells in State and city police HQs.
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