New Delhi: Nine former IPS officers have written an open letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner, S.N. Shrivastava, attempting to draw attention to the many ways in which they believe that the investigation into the Delhi riots of February, 2020, are ‘flawed.’
The letter is signed by Shafi Alam (former Director General, National Crime Records Bureau), K. Saleem Ali (former Special Director, CBI), Mohinderpal Aulakh (former Director General of Police (Jails), Punjab), A.S. Dulat (former OSD on Kashmir, Prime Minister’s Office), Aloke B. Lal (former Director General (Prosecution), Uttarakhand), Amitabh Mathur (former Director, Aviation Research Centre and former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat), Avinash Mohananey (former Director General of Police, Sikkim), P.G.J. Nampoothiri (former Director General of Police, Gujarat) and A.K. Samanta (former Director General of Police (Intelligence), West Bengal).
The nine former top cops are all part of the Constitutional Conduct Group, under the aegis of which retired officers belonging to the various services often take up matters of public interest and welfare. The policemen begin the letter by saying that their fellow CCG-member, and famed former IPS officer Julio Ribeiro’s letter to Shrivastava is one that has their endorsement.
“Kindly revisit the actions of the police under your command in Delhi to determine if they have been true to their oaths taken at the time of their induction into service,” the Ribeiro had written in the letter.
The police officers have called the investigation into the riots “partisan and politically motivated.”
“…[W]e would like to say that it indeed is a sad day in the history of Indian police that investigations and challans submitted in the court by Delhi Police in connection with riots of this year are widely believed to be partisan and politically motivated. It pains all those police officers, serving as well as retired, who believe in upholding the rule of law and our Constitution.”
The officers have also made mention of what the Indian Express had first reported and what Delhi police had later attempted to stymie: the fact that Special Commissioner of Police (Crime) Praveer Ranjan has written to senior police officers heading probe teams that the arrest of “some Hindu youth” from areas in North-East Delhi, where the Delhi riots took place in February, has led to a “degree of resentment among the Hindu community”.
The officers write:
“We were sad to note that one of your Special Commissioners had tried to influence investigations claiming resentment among Hindus over the arrest of some rioters belonging to their community. Such a majoritarian attitude in the police leadership leads to a travesty of justice for the victims of violence and their family members belonging to minority communities. This would further mean that real culprits of the violence belonging to majority community are likely to go scot free.”
Notably, BJP leaders Kapil Mishra and Parvesh Verma and Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur are among those who have not been named in a single FIR. The former was found responsible for triggering the violence by a fact finding team of the Delhi Minority Commission.
The policemen also held that the practice followed by Delhi Police in investigating these crimes, that of basing investigations on alleged confessions, is violative of fair investigation practices.
“What pains us more is implicating all those who spoke and joined protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). They were simply exercising their fundamental rights of freedom of speech and peaceful protests as guaranteed by the Constitution. Basing investigations on “disclosures” without concrete evidence violates all principles of fair investigation. While implicating leaders and activists, who expressed their views against CAA, all those who instigated violence and are associated with the ruling party have been let off the hook.
“Such investigation will only make people lose faith in democracy, justice, fairness and the Constitution. A dangerous thought that may ultimately shake the pillars of an orderly society and lead to breakdown of law and order.
In the end, they request reinvestigation with fairness.
“We would, therefore, earnestly request you for reinvestigation of all riot cases fairly and without any bias based on sound principles of criminal investigations to provide justice to the victims and their families and for upholding the rule of law.”
The letter comes on a day when social activist and JNU scholar Umar Khalid was arrested in what is a controversial attempt to establish his link with the Delhi riots.