From politicians to lawyers and activists, names of various prominent personalities have emerged in the charge sheet filed by the Delhi Police in the Delhi riots case. Now senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, Congress Party leader Salman, CPI-ML politburo member Kavita Krishnan, student leader Kawalpreet Kaur and scientist Gauhar Raza, named in the charge sheet for First Information Report (FIR) 59/2020 Crime Branch, which accuses students, social and political activists, and a suspended Aam Aadmi Party councillor of plotting the Delhi riots.
On September 16, the police filed a winding charge sheet against the accused under various sections of the UAPA, the Indian Penal Code, the Arms Act and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The copy of the charge sheet was supplied to their counsels on Monday, India Today reported attributing news agency PTI.
Bhushan and Khurshid’s names emerge in the “disclosure statements attributed to two accused in the case, a former Congress councillor Ishrat Jahan and businessman Mohammed Khalid aka Khalid Saifi. A supplementary disclosure statement attributed to Khalid Saifi dated 30 March 2020, reads, “To keep the protest movement going for a long time,” he and Ishrat Jahan would call people like advocate Mehmood Pracha, Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid, Salman Khurshid, and Bhim Army’s Himanshu so that people who listen to their inciting speeches and they would stand up against the Indian government for their religion.”
“Several big names used to come to the Khureji site to give speeches against CAA/NPR (National Population Register)/NRC (National Register for Citizens), like Udit Raj, Salman, Khurshid, Brinda Karat, Umar Khalid (former JNU student leader),” he alleged as quoted in the charge sheet.
A similar statement was also given by Ishrat Jahan and other witnesses.
Lawyers for the accused say the police have fabricated the disclosure statements.
“The police have written the disclosure statements. There is no truth to it,” Pradeep Teotia, Jahan’s lawyer, told HuffPost India.
Saifi’s lawyer Harsh Bora underscored that disclosure statements were inadmissible in law because police use coercion to obtain signatures of an accused. “Moreover, they are false,” added Bora.
The chargesheet submitted runs to 11 volumes, totalling over 17,000 pages. However there’s disclosure statements galore and It is worth noting that neither Saifi or Jahan mentioned Bhushan and Khurshid, claimed by Saifi’s lawyer.
The emergence of these prominent names has lent influence that the BJP is leaning on the Delhi Police to muzzle those opposed to the Narendra Modi government.
Legally speaking, this doesn’t make Bhushan or Khurshid an accused in the case as yet, but lawyers say it manifests them to further investigation and leaves them vulnerable to being interlaced of the so-called conspiracy in the future under section 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code. Disclosure statements cannot be submitted in court and do not have evidentiary value in a trial unless they lead to the discovery of new evidence.
Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, whose name was recently reported to have appeared in disclosure statements in FIR 50/2020 Jafrabad Police Station, also appeared in the disclosure statements in FIR 59/2020 along with lawyer Mehmood Pracha, who is representing a 28-year-old MBA graduate Gulfisha Fatima in FIR 59, Ali Anwar Ansari, a former Janata Dal (United) leader and Rajya Sabha lawmaker, human rights defender Harsh Mander, documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy, Himanshu, Congress member Sadaf Jafar, and Himanshu, the Delhi state president of the Bhim Army, among others. The name of Kavita Krishnan, who is secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, and a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), also appears in the disclosure statements attributed to Kalita and Narwal in FIR 59.
Most of the 21 arrested in FIR 59 for allegedly planning the riots are Muslim. Most the 53 people killed in the Delhi riots were Muslim.
They are yet to file FIRs against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra and Anurag Thakur who threatened vigilantism and made provocative speeches ahead of the Delhi riots.
In simple words: the police have been more efficient in investigating riots cases against Muslims. what could be a better illustration of police bias?
Social activists, academics and retired police officers have questioned why the Delhi Police appear to be pressing the blame for the Delhi riots on those who are critical of that Modi government and opposed the CAA and NRC. The Delhi Police continue to claim they are carrying out an unbiased investigation into the Delhi riots.
“My speeches were neither provocative nor provoking violence. I was generally praising these protests and saying that this law is unconstitutional. My speech must have been recorded in multiple video cameras. I would say that this government is trying to destroy the secular and make India into a Hindu Rashtra and it is great that women have come out to protest against it,” said Bhushan.
“These are beginnings of a police state. Sweeping opinions given by individuals in the protection of the police are being put in a charge sheet which are not necessarily part of the charge sheet,” said Khurshid.
“I and thousands of others proudly and openly participated in the equal citizenship protests,” said Kavita Krishnan. “The Delhi Police ‘investigation’ is the real conspiracy to equate protests, meetings, conversations, arguments, the ordinary everyday actions of spirited citizens, with ‘conspiracy to riot.’ It is clear that the disclosure and witness statements of equal citizenship protestors have been tampered with or scripted by the Delhi Police.”