Two years after riots in northeast Delhi, victims still await justice

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IJ It has been two years since communal carnage rocked several localities in northeast Delhi. The survivors of the root and the families of the victims are still waiting for justice. The CAA-NRC protesters, who were arrested by police for conspiracy, remain in jail without trial.

To mark the carnage and advance the discourse on the lives of the victims, a group of concerned citizens and organizations, comprising the National Federation of Indian Women (NIFW), Indian Association of Democratic Women (AIDWA), Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), United Against Hate (UAH) and Karwan-e-Mohabbat, met on February 26, 2022 to organize a People’s Tribunal.

The court brought together families of survivors and individuals from northeast Delhi, field experts and lawyers to testify before a jury made up of people with long experience in their respective fields. It was a one-day closed-door event that saw a series of discussions on five key themes – the impact of state apathy in northeast Delhi, testimonies from families, cases medical and state response, police investigation and riots, and compensation framework.

The jury included former Indian Ambassador Deb Mukharji, former Home Secretary (Indian Ministry of Home Affairs) Gopal Pillai, historian Mridula Mukharji, journalist and researcher Pamela Philipose, l former member of the Planning Commission of India and writer Syeda Hameed. The jury’s findings were released on February 28.

FINDINGS OF THE JURY

The jury said in their report that despite adequate intelligence and warning indicators of heightened tensions and threats, the Delhi police failed to take adequate action to prevent the riots from spreading. “Once the violence broke out, the Delhi police along with acts of omission and commission allowed the riots to continue for longer. Take no action against the mobs who commit the violence and leave the victims to fend for themselves more often than not has only resulted in more casualties, more suffering and harassment, and more property damage,” the report states.

It should be mentioned that the Delhi Police comes under the Union Home Ministry.

The jury also noted widespread instances of police misconduct. They pointed out that the police harassed victims and innocent citizens through various means, including mass arrests, refusing to arrest and take action against “powerful” people involved in inciting violence, bribery and extortion attempts, misusing technology to trick people and pulling out biased and unfair charge sheets.

The findings also pointed out that there was a lack of proper and transparent investigation and a biased approach leading to a lack of credibility in the whole investigation process. “Countless adverse comments from the courts have also highlighted them during this period. Hundreds of innocent people, including victims, have been imprisoned on what appear to be completely trumped up charges,” the report said.

The jury accused the Delhi government of failing miserably to provide adequate relief to victims of violence and failing to prevent harassment and fair investigation of riot-related cases over the past two years.

The report states, “The state did little to bridge the community divide created and widened by the riots. This led to insecurity and ghettoization, with people moving into mono-religious neighborhoods.

According to experts, the compensation scheme developed and provided by the state government is general and discriminatory. “While the death of a police officer was offered more than Rs. 1 crore, the death of an ordinary victim of the violence was only given Rs. 10 lacs. Also, according to the scheme, the death of a child was attributed only to Rs. 5 lacs. These glaring and arbitrary discrepancies have been repeatedly pointed out and need to be challenged,” the report says.

He added: “It should be noted that most of the legal support provided to survivors of violence has been provided by youth and community lawyers. The state did almost nothing to provide them with free legal aid.

JURY RECOMMENDATIONS

The jury urged the government to immediately create a judicial inquiry headed by a retired Supreme Court justice to investigate the riots. “The impunity enjoyed by state and non-state actors can only be challenged by the establishment of such a commission of inquiry with members who have stature and credibility among the communities concerned,” he said. he declares.

He also demanded that the Delhi government immediately set up an empowered panel to look into all cases of inadequate and delayed compensation. The claims assessment and compensation process should be completed within three months. The Empowered Group must also take into account the hardships faced by riot survivors over the past two years due to the flawed March 2020 compensation system and reward them for the same, he said. “The empowered group must have members from northeast Delhi who understand the political economy of the region and can engage effectively with the community,” the report adds.

Another essential demand raised by the Jury, the inclusion of predictive policing in a regulatory framework. “A sharp rise in the use of predictive policing, including facial recognition technology which has been used by Delhi police to round up those they have accused of instigating violence, is based on a fallacious assumption according to which the algorithms ensured unbiased investigations,” he said.

He urged state and central governments to launch programs to rebuild employment opportunities for riot survivors who lost their livelihoods and provide them with crucial livelihood support.

All cases of negligence and delay in treating serious injuries to riot victims, some of which resulted in death or permanent disability in public hospitals, must be investigated by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, the jury demanded , adding: “They must also examine the alleged community bias of doctors and hospital staff. The state government must ensure that adequate and free medical care is provided to the victims of the riots so that their treatment can continue.

First published by Newsclick.

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