Nearly two years after Nisar Ahmed, a Delhi pogrom victim, filed a complaint regarding vandalism and ransacking of his house and shop in north-east Delhi’s Bhagirathi Vihar, Delhi Police has said that it has found “no sufficient evidence” against BJP leader Kanhaiya Lal, one of the accused in the case. Mr. Ahmed had also alleged that burqa-clad women were being killed and thrown into the Bhagirathi drain.
In a chargesheet filed in Mr. Ahmed’s case before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg, police have kept Mr. Lal, a BJP councillor from east Delhi’s Johripur ward, in column 12. Column 12 in a chargesheet means that there is not enough evidence to make a person an accused in a case.
Another accused, Mukesh Masterji, has also been kept in column 12. “The name of Kanhaiya Lal and Mukesh Masterji have been kept in column no. 12 of the chargesheet, as no sufficient evidence has come on cases filed against them. The hon’ble court may summon them for trial, if it thinks fit,” the chargesheet stated.
Eight other accused, identified as Dinesh, Sandeep, Tinku Arora, Shahil, Vikas Kashyap, Sonu, Sunil Kumar and Vikas, have, however, been summoned through notices under several IPC sections pertaining to rioting, arson and criminal intimidation.
Mr. Ahmed in his complaint said: “On February 24, 2020, at around 4 p.m., some locals started protesting in support of CAA and the accused persons, including Mr. Lal, purportedly started setting up mics and speakers in the locality and raised inflammatory slogans against Muslims. The crowd swelled to around 600 people and started randomly checking IDs of passers-by who if found to be a Muslim, were brutally beaten and thrown into the Bhagirathi Vihar drain.”
The complainant alleged that repeated calls to the police went unanswered. The next day, a mob came to his house, vandalised his garment shop and ransacked his house. He and his family fled the place following the incident, he added. Mr. Ahmed initially claimed that the police told him to file an unnamed complaint but he refused to do so. He later filed a written complaint naming all the accused at the Gokalpuri police station.
Mr. Ahmed had said that Mr. Lal had set up the mics and speakers and gave hate speeches. He claimed that he was the direct cause of mob violence, including murder, loot and arson. “Mr. Lal attempted to intimidate and get the applicant to change his statement,” the complaint stated.
Thereafter, Mr. Ahmed allegedly started receiving threat calls from Mr. Lal and other accused asking him to withdraw the case. Mr. Ahmed was also provided with witness protection as he is a key witness in several other cases. He received a copy of the FIR only three months later after moving the Delhi High Court.
However, his complaint was merged into an unnamed FIR of one Aas Mohammad regarding burning and looting of his property. A magistrate’s court had in October 2020 pulled up the police for clubbing the complaints into a single FIR and ordered them to file an FIR in his case. Police had challenged the order before a sessions court through a revision petition, which said that both the complaints were on the same footing.
The sessions court too had rapped the police stating that there was “complete lack of supervision” and FIRs had been clubbed “to protect the accused”. A separate FIR was then registered in July last year against all the 10 accused.
Police in the chargesheet has also refuted the claim of Muslim women being killed and thrown into the Bhagirathi drain, claiming that no woman’s body or missing women complaints were found registered in any police station.
Mr. Ahmed’s lawyer, M.R. Shamshad, has moved a protest application challenging the removal of Mr. Lal and Mr. Mukesh under the penal charges.
Mr. Ahmed told The Hindu: “Mr. Lal led the mob which vandalised my house and shop and gave anti-Muslim speeches, my family and I are eyewitnesses … how can they give him a clean chit? I hope the court takes note of our protest petition.”
This article first appeared at The Hindu