Delhi riots 2020 investigation, as it is unfolding is becoming more interesting than a thriller. If in February anyone asked what is common between Zakir Naik, Umar Khaled, Khaled Saifi, Ishrat Jahan and Tahir Hussain, the answer might have been NONE. For the record, Zakir Naik is the so-called renowned comparative religion scholar who shared the stage with luminaries and even went to Lal Bahadur Academy at the invitation of the academy and addressed 160 IPS trainee officers (plus 10 officers from Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives). Umar Khalid is a JNU scholar, Khalid Saifi is associated with India against hate, Ishrat Jahan is a former Congress municipal councillor and Tahir Hussain is a sitting Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) from a North East Delhi constituency. However as the events are unfolding, the nexus is becoming clear.
As the background unfolds, Khalid Saifi went to Malaysia to meet with wanted radical Islamist preacher Zakir Naik as the CAA protests on the Shaheen Bagh model were being set up all over India. An investigation of Saifi shows that he met various individuals including Zakir Naik to raise funds for the riots. According to a status report filed by Delhi Police’s Special Cell, Saifi received funds for the riots through an NRI account from Singapore. These funds were reportedly transferred to an NGO co-run by Umar Khalid our scholar from JNU who had made his inciting speech at Amravati. Saifi also allegedly received funds from Saudi Arabia and radical Islamist organization, People’s Front of India (PFI).
Then Ishrat Jahan makes her entry in the scene and becomes another conduit for receiving foreign funds. The money was transferred to her via a ‘suspicious route’ in Ghaziabad and her relatives in Maharashtra. Ishrat Jahan was also arrested by Delhi Police in March for her involvement in the Delhi riots case. Last but perhaps the most important link in the chain is Tahir Hussain who stepped in now. Umar Khalid, suspended AAP councillor Tahir Hussain and Saifi are told to be close friends. Tahir Hussain was the one to put the money to sinister use by mobilizing Delhi Riots in February 2020.
The most enduring images of Delhi Riots were of Tahir Hussain on his terrace walking around as if supervising the riot, prepared to hurl stones, at innocent people. The burnt clothes, the acid bottles, and the burnt vehicles in the parking lot bear witness to it all. All these littered around his infamous building lead to Tahir Hussain. Who can forget the innocent smiling face of 26-year-old Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma, whose body was retrieved from a drain near Delhi’s Chand Bagh on February 26, 2020? The autopsy report stated, “Multiple abrasion.. deep cut.. by sharp edge objects.” The panel of doctors, who carried out post mortem, clearly stated that he was brutally and repeatedly stabbed, leading to his death.
The charge sheet in Ankit Sharma case explicitly mentions that Tahir Hussain hatched the plans for riots in January when Hussain met Umar Khalid and Khalid Saifi at Shaheen Bagh. Delhi police filed two more charge sheets in cases related to the February riots in northeast Delhi. In both, the police charged suspended AAP councillor, Tahir Hussain. According to eyewitness accounts, AAP councillor was seen leading forty to fifty rioters inciting them on religious lines. The two charge sheets relate to two separate incidents of violence during the riots — the first, related to arson and rioting at a parking lot in Chand Bagh.
Tahir Hussain along with his accomplice broken shutter and went ahead ransacking the place. Their food was being prepared for a wedding. The food was thrown and the people were terrorized later the parking lot was set afire by a local bombing which at least a hundred vehicles were gutted. In the second FIR Tahir Hussain has been charged with arson and robbery at a godown of essential goods in Karawal Nagar. Both cases have been filed based on eyewitness accounts, CCTV footage, and Tahir Hussain’s WhatsApp conversations.
The unfolding denouement is like a painting of a sinister design that slowly comes into vision as the fogs and layers of conspiracy get lifted. The involvement of people from diverse backgrounds, wide geographic division, acting in unison over a period of time can not be anything but the unfolding of a strategic design masterminded and perpetrated by tukde tukde gang, intellectuals, corrupt politicians, who seek culmination of their designs by shattering religious amity, spreading hate and engineering violence. If the collateral costs are over 50 innocents dead, thousands homeless, hundreds critically injured, property worth thousands of crores gutted and a sense of perpetual sense of fear in the air…so what.
(This article has been written by Prof. Vijita. S. Aggarwal who teaches in GGSIPU)