This is the second part of the series, where we break down the report by the fact-finding committee on the North-east Delhi violence that took place in February 2020. Wherein the first part we talked about the key findings in the report, in the second, we will be highlighting the testimonies given by the victims to the committee.
According to the first testimony, given by 3 Muslim residents of Shiv Vihar phase VII, on 25th February at around 4 pm, several people, in gypsy cars, came near a small bridge connecting Johripur. With helmet and covered faces, they started throwing petrol bombs in the gali dominated by Muslims. Another group came from across the Nala Abadi side in a santro car. The car had gas cylinder inside. It was then lit on fire and rolled down the slope towards the residential area of shiv vihar. The car that was lit on fire, hit the small bridge leading to a huge blast. Following that, the mob kept throwing cylinders, gas golas [bombs] and bottles towards the residential areas, while the residents kept crying in panic.
“They first looted the houses and then burnt them. While doing this loot and arson…they kept saying….Mullas…take Azadi…we are giving you Azadi. They knew that the people here were Muslims. In this gali No 19, phase 7, there are 30 houses out of which 27 belong to Muslims and three to non-Muslims. All 27 houses of Muslims were looted, burnt and destroyed. The three houses of non-Muslims were left intact.”
Another testimony states that Muslim-owned shops were being specifically identified by locals to the mob for the purpose of looting and arson. The respondent states his grandmother had four shops, which she had given on rent to Muslims as well as Hindus. A halwai [sweets] shop given on rent to a Hindu remained untouched, while the adjacent shop (dealing with phones), given on rent to a Muslim, was burnt. Again, her Hindu tenant (tea shop) was spared, while a motorcycle repair shop run by a Muslim tenant, was burnt.
The respondent also stated that during the violence on 24 February, a Police gypsy car was patrolling. On complaints by Muslims about the mob, the Police personnel said that they will not do anything to prevent it as they did not have order from higher-ups to prevent them. In fact, the Police told the mob, “you do what they want.”
The report also had a testimony of a Muslim woman, whose brother was killed in the violence. On 25th February, a mob came in her building and cut off the electricity and CCTV connections. After that they entered the house and slapped her. They asked about the men in her family to which she lied and told them there were none. She had asked the men in family to hide in the wooden box of the bed. The mob started hitting everything in the house with iron rods. They hit the bed and one out of the two cried from inside due to panic. They opened the bed and took out both of them and started beating them mercilessly. They took her brother Musharraf with them. Two days later, her brother’s dead body was found in a nearby drain. All the while, the family kept calling the police, but no one came. Till now nobody has been arrested in relation to her brother’s death.
In another testimony, the respondent after fleeing from his house, which was set on fire along with other Muslim houses in the locality, states that he saw from his rooftop that Aman Showroom was being burnt in the presence of the Police. The Police was coordinating with the mob and the mob kept on chanting, “Dilli Police Zindabad” (Long Live Delhi Police).
Another respondent from old Mustafabad stated that Police in Blue Uniforms entered the Mosque and started beating people who were offering Namaz there. People coming out of the Masjid were hit by the Police. The owner of the Chawla General Store, along with his companions, cut them into pieces and threw them in the naala [drain]. The respondent said that he also recognized some local men namely Rahul Verma and Arun Baisoya. Rahaul Verma sent many of the Namazis to their deaths by shooting at them and Arun Baisoya started throwing petrol bombs inside the Masjid. They desecrated copies of the Holy Quran saying that “If you consider this book a great one, then see how this will be burnt.”
“In the area where the violence was going on, Police people was just sitting in their cars and the mob kept on attacking people. Police was not in small numbers, rather they were there in about 10-12 Gypsy vehicle. Police were not receiving telephone calls.”
Among many recommendations by the fact-finding committee, they have asked the Delhi Minorities Commission to take appropriate action against Delhi Police personnel involved in violence on victims, acts of omission etc. in terms of power vested in it as per the Delhi Minorities Commission Act, 1999. They have also asked the commission that it should recommend to the Central and Delhi Government passing of appropriate legislation relating to communal violence to ensure prevention and protection of minorities from communal violence and by fixing accountability of Police force.