Police chargesheet 15 for ‘conspiracy’, link Delhi riots to anti-CAA protests
| New Delhi |
September 17, 2020 4:40:15 am
Transcripts of WhatsApp chats, call records and 747 witnesses are among the key elements of the chargesheet filed Wednesday by the Delhi Police Special Cell against 15 people in a “conspiracy” case related to the February riots in Northeast Delhi.
The chargesheet includes the names of former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councillor Tahir Hussain, and Pinjra Tod’s Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, as accused. But it does not mention former JNU students, Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam, who were arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in the case.
Khalid was arrested three days ago and Imam last month in the case, and their names will be mentioned in the supplementary chargesheet in the coming months, police sources said. Imam was already under custody for his alleged role in the violence at Jamia Millia Islamia last December and on charges of delivering speeches deemed “seditious” during protests against the CAA and NRC.
A senior police officer told The Indian Express that the chargesheet, filed at the Karkardooma court, is well over 17,000 pages. “The operative part is 2,692 pages and the total number of pages, including annexures, about 17,500. We have 747 witnesses in the chargesheet and are relying on technical evidence, WhatsApp chats and Call Detail Records (CDRs),” the officer said.
During their investigation, the police claim to have found that various anti-CAA agitation sites were created with the objective to escalate the protests to the level of riots. “We also found that the main conspirators created WhatsApp chat groups…when the violence was going on, people were sent to the site to supervise,” the officer claimed.
“We have several pieces of technical evidence, including WhatsApp chats of February 24 when the violence was happening. At that point, the key conspirators were guiding their foot soldiers in the area and were directly in touch with them. There were around 25 protest sites, and around 25 WhatsApp groups were especially created for each site. The impression was given that they were anti-CAA protest groups,” the officer claimed.
“We have identified a WhatsApp group called the ‘Delhi Protests Support Group (DPSG)’. There is a chat where an accused makes a clear reference to a plan of road block (chakka jam) and inciting violence. The strategy was to block the road, and confrontation with the law enforcement agency was the second step,” the officer claimed.
Apart from Hussain, Kalita and Narwal, those named in the chargesheet are: Khalid Saifi, Ishrat Jahan, Gulfisha, Shafa ur Rehman, Miran Haider, Safoora Jargar, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Shadab Ahmed, Taslim Ahmed, Salim Malik, Muhammad Salim Khan and Athar Khan.
Police had registered an FIR against Umar Khalid on March 6 based on information allegedly provided by an informer to Sub-Inspector Arvind Kumar of the narcotics unit of the Crime Branch. Kumar claimed in the FIR that the informer told him that the riots were part of a “premeditated conspiracy” allegedly hatched by Khalid, one Danish, and two others associated with different organisations.
The police have also got the sanction required under the UAPA to proceed in the case. “We have identified each group that had a separate role in the conspiracy. We have also identified three levels of conspirators: top-level, middle-level and the foot soldiers who were rioters. Some of the WhatsApp chats were deleted, but we recovered most of them and submitted them before the court as evidence,” the officer said.
Pointing out that 53 people had died, 583 were injured and claims amounting to more than Rs 20 crore had been filed in the riots, Additional PRO (Delhi Police) Anil Mittal said, “The first chargesheet has been filed at Karkardooma court.”
“The Special Cell took 195 days to complete the first phase…approximately 75 electronic devices have been seized as part of the investigation. Based upon scientific, documentary and testimonial evidence, a total number of 15 accused have now been chargesheeted out of the 21 persons arrested so far. The remaining six persons are expected to be chargesheeted in due course after collecting sufficient evidence and completing statutory and procedural requirements,” Mittal said.
“Further investigation into the matter is continuing and supplementary chargesheets are likely to be filed in due course,” he said.
The case was transferred from the Crime Branch to the Special Cell, which set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and deputed 17 inspectors to probe various protest sites.
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