On the 24th and 25th of February, Delhi was gripped with unbridled violence and riots that was unleashed after an elaborate conspiracy was hatched by certain Muslim groups and Left groups. After the riots left 53 dead and over 530 people injured (including 106 police officials), the Delhi Police has till date filed 751 FIRs and several chargesheets pertaining to these FIRs have already been filed. 7 months after the gruesome riots, the Delhi police has filed the first chargesheet detailing the conspiracy that was hatched to unleash violence in the streets of Delhi.
There are 15 man accused in the chargesheet that speaks primarily of the conspiracy hatched. The accused are:
- Abdul Khalid Saifi,
- Ishrat Jahan,
- Meeran Haider,
- Tahir Hussain,
- Gulfisha Khatoon,
- Safoora Zargar,
- Asif Iqbal Tanha,
- Shadab Ahmad,
- Natasha Narwal,
- Devangana Kalita,
- Taslim Ahmad,
- Salim Malik,
- Salim Khan and
- Athar Khan
Three individuals, Mohammad Danish, Mohammad Ilyas, Mohammad Parwez Ahmad, have been named as suspects since the investigation is still on.
However, in the chargesheet filed, the story of the conspiracy goes far beyond the people who have been named as accused in the chargesheet. For example, Umar Khalid, who has been arrested under UAPA and a separate chargesheet pertaining to his actions would be filed soon. Others like Yogendra Yadav and Sharjeel Imam (already arrested and chargesheeted) also play an important part.
In the 2700 page chargesheet filed pertaining to FIR 59/2020, the Delhi Police dedicate almost 700 pages to the chronology of the conspiracy hatched. Confirming what OpIndia had already pointed out earlier, the February riots were inextricably linked to the December violence that was unleashed in various parts of the country such as Delhi, UP and other places.
What is interesting in the chargesheet, is that the Delhi Police have managed to piece together the conspiracy right from the 5th of December, a day after the Citizenship Amendment Bill was tabled in both houses of the parliament.
In this first part of this report, we will analyse how the hatching of the conspiracy was started, who were the players involved and how the December violence escalated on the 15th, 16th and 17th.
5th of December – WhatsApp group Muslim Students of JNU created by Sharjeel Imam
According to the chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police, after CAB was tabled in both houses of the parliament on the 4th of December, on the 5th of December a group called Muslim Students of JNU (MSJ) was formed by Sharjeel Imam who was the main member of the group and its creation was also his brainchild.
The chats that have been procured by the Delhi police after a perusal of the phones confiscated from Sharjeel and other accused, it was revealed that Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi (student of Jamia) were in constant touch and Sharjeel was also in touch with “radical communal group” Students of Jamia (SOJ).
6th of December: Pamphlets distributed in Mosques
On the 6th of December, pamphlets which were written by Sharjeel Imam himself were distributed in the Jama Masjid area by the MSJ group. This fact was revealed by the chats recovered between Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi. The pamphlets were communal in nature and essentially aimed to incite hate in the Muslim community by invoking the Supreme Court decision in the Ram Janmabhoomi case.
Some of the pamphlets read “Law of Allah above all else” and “The command of Allah is above every law”.
The pamphlets that were distrusted in mosques on the 6th of December also had a call to join the protest called by ‘United Against Hate’ at Jantar Mantar in large numbers and to “mobilise mob”.
A sample of the conversation between Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi on the 7th of December (produced verbatim from the screenshot of the WhatsApp conversation attached in the chargesheet):
Arshad: Hamne bhi babri ke hawale se kuch distribution kiye the. So wahin malum chala
Sharjeel: Parcha humne likha tha
Arshad: Sahi hai
Sharjeel: Aur 8000 copies baate aaj masajid main
Arshad: Mashallah. May Allah reward you all.
It is important to note that when Arshad says “Wahin malum chala” he means that it was Sharjeel who had started the ‘Muslim students of JNU’ group. This was revealed in the preceding chat where Sharjeel says that he had made this group on the 5th on an emergency after Muslim kids approached him.
7th December: ‘We have to do something big next week’, says Sharjeel Imam
On the 7th of December, Sharjeel Imam said that he would be joining the protests called by United Against Hate. This fact was revealed by his WhatsApp conversation with Arshad Warsi. While joining a protest is not wrong in itself, here is the clincher – on the 7th of December, Sharjeel Imam categorically said that he was planning something big in the next week and for that purpose, he would mobilise students from DU, AMU etc with the help of MSJ members.
A portion of the chat between Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi according to the Chargesheet is reproduced below:
Subsequently, Arshad Wars put up the minutes of the meeting that was held at the Tefla Dhaba between the core committee members of the MSJ group. The aim of the meeting was rather simple – to make the UAH rally a resounding success and also, to ensure that both Muslims and non-Muslim students turn up at the protest.
The aim of getting Muslim and non-Muslim students both was rather evident and is a recurring theme in the chargesheet – to ensure that veil of secularism was maintained and it would not seem like only Muslims were protesting against the Bill. In fact, the farce of the exercise is evident since in one of the chats, it was said by the two that the aim of the MSJ was to ensure that Muslim students who wanted to coordinate and protest could come together and they did not want to be seen competing with other Muslim organisations like SIO.
It is important to note that it was the following week that the Jamia riots took place and violence broke out in several parts of Delhi and even Uttar Pradesh.
The violence began on the 15th of December when Muslim mobs rampaged through the national capital. Amanatullah Khan, a prominent MLA of the Aam Aadmi Party, and Delhi’s Sunni Waqf Board chief was spotted leading the riots in Jamia Nagar. Chants of ‘Hinduon se Azadi’ were raised in the same area that very day. Buses were also set on fire during those violent protests. On the same night, the Delhi Police cracked down on the Jamia Milia Islamia University and entered the campus to flush out the miscreants.
Two days later, massive riots broke out in Seelampur. Delhi turned into a war zone. A school bus was attacked and set on fire as well. The mob taunted the policemen to run after them following which stones were pelted. Peace returned at the national capital following the escalation on the 17th of December but it was an uneasy peace.
7th December: Enter Yogendra Yadav and Umar Khalid
On the 7th of December, at the protest organised by United Against Hate, the chargesheet says that Yogendra Yadav, Umar Khalid, Nadeem Khan, Sharjeel Imam, Ifat and Sai Balaji were also present. They delivered speeches against the CAA at this protest. Umar Khalid, who was his “senior and mentor” from JNU introduced Sharjeel Imam to Yogendra Yadav at this agitation.
Witnesses have told the police that earlier, Umar Khalid had already told Sharjeel Imam to make a group of “like-minded individuals” from JNU, Jamia, DU etc and had explained the concept of Chakka Jam to him. As an extension of that theme, at the meeting with Yogendra Yadav, he was told to “mobilise students of Jamia, DU and AMU”.
According to the chargesheet, two important things were decided in this meeting:
- It was decided between Yogendra Yadav, Sharjeel Imam and Umar Khalid that social media would be used to indoctrinate Muslims and for the mobilisation of people for Chakka Jam.
- Awareness campaigns should be launched in Muslim majority areas.
- Attempts should be made to form an alliance with like-minded Muslim organisations for Chakka Jam.
- Masjids should be the focal point for the starting of Chakka Jam and the help of Imams should be taken.
The entry of Yogendra Yadav in the conspiracy hatched, according to the chargesheet, dates back to the 7th of December 2019. This is only days before the Jamia violence erupted and several areas of Delhi saw violence. In fact, it is also days before Tahir Hussain admitted that he had started inciting people against CAA and pelted stones against the Hindus on the 17th.
8th December: The meeting, the plan and the way forward
A meeting was held in the basement of a location in Jangpura (address withheld in this report) where the participants included Yogendra Yadav, Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid and others.
It was in this meeting, that according to the chargesheet, a plan was hatched on how to implement the Chakka Jam. It was decided that it would be Sharjeel Imam who would organise and lead students from various universities and colleges in and around Delhi. It was, interestingly, also decided that organisations like United Against Hate and Swarajya Abhiyaan would help each other in every way possible. This has, according to the Chargehsheet, been revealed by a witness.
The fact that this meeting took place was also confirmed by the chats that were discovered between Sharjeel Imam and Arshad Warsi.
On the same day, a WhatsApp group was formed called the ‘CAB TEAM’. The core members of the team were following:
- Yogendra Yadav
- Umar Khalid
- Sharjeel Imam
- Nadeem Khan
- Parvej Alam etc.
9th and 10th December: CAB becomes CAA, Yogendra Yadav’s ‘CAB TEAM’ organises its first protest and a secret meeting
On the 9th of December, CAB got passed in the Parliament and became an Act. The Muslim Students of JNU group that was started by Sharjeel Imam burnt a copy of the CAA in JNU campus. Further, a protest was called by the ‘CAB TEAM’ on the 10th. After the protest, on the night of 10th, a secret meeting was called at the Tefla Dhaba of the ‘CAB TEAM’.
11th December: Minutes of the meeting out – Avoid over-secularisation of the protest, contact media like BBC, TRT and Al Jazeera
After the secret meeting on the 10th night, on the 11th December morning, the minutes of the meeting of the CAB core team was shared with the rest of the people.
There were a few extremely points that must be highlighted. These were:
- Avoid over-secularisation of this movement. They asserted that since the CAA is supposedly against Muslims, the nature and character of this movement should also have a ‘Muslim characteristic’.
- Contact AMU and Jamia. It is pertinent to note that here is where the violence was triggered in December.
- Contact international media like BBC, TRT and Al Jazeera.
- Make contact with local mosques through 2-3 leaders.
- United Against Hate called for a protest on the 19th of December, which was to be strengthened.
Interestingly, all these points had larger implications during not only the December violence but also the February riots. The fact that mosques were being mobilised and also international media which had sympathies with Islamists were getting involved were also factors that played a major role in perpetuating a false narrative after the February riots and also, helped in the coordination and execution of the riots.
On the 11th itself, Sharjeel Imam went to AMU in pursuance to the conspiracy hatched in the CAB TEAM. Sharjeel had gone to AMU for the mobilisation of students there.
12th and 13th December: ‘We know we will not be able to reach parliament, police will block us, we should then change route and block major roads’
From the 12th of December, Asif Iqbal Tanha who was a member of SIO, UAH and other Islamist organisations joined hands with Sharjeel Imam. A plan was then hatched to march to the Parliament to protest against CAA. At this point, another group called ‘Parliament March’ was created to coordinate the protest that was to take place on the 13th. In this group, even MSJ, the group started by Sharjeel Imam was present.
On the 13th of December, Sharjeel Imam was instructed to reach Jamia Milia Islamia. It must be remembered that it was in Jamia that the violence had erupted.
On the 13th, according to the conspiracy, Sharjeel Imam along with the others from MSJ reached Jamia for the march to the parliament. However, a sinister plan of Chakka Jam and impending violence was also taking shape.
According to the chat added in the chargesheet, it is clear that during the parliament march, the Islamists were rather clear on the fact that they will not be allowed to reach the Parliament and were bound to be intercepted by the police with barricades. In that eventuality, it was suggested that they should change the route, get to the highway and block the roads to “create pressure”.
The pamphlets distributed for the 13th December march were also clearly to incite hate and violence.
It must be noticed that the pamphlet clearly says “There are more than enough grounds for a strong reaction from Muslims across India”.
After the violence erupted in Jamia, there are chats that showed the active participation of Sharjeel Imam in the violence. There were conversations where he was asking fellow Islamists if he and his people should reach the police station if the detained people have not been released. In fact, in one of the conversations, he even admits that his spectacles were damaged, probably during the violence on the 13th.
The 13th of December marked the first incident of violence in Delhi after Islamists and Leftists had gotten together in the name of their protest against CAA.
On the 13th of December, the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act took a communal turn in Delhi after ‘students’ of the controversial Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University resorted to mob violence against the police officials and shouted Islamic slogans “Allah-o-Akbar” during their protests. Video had even surfaced where Jamia Millia Islamia University students can be seen raising ‘Allaho Akbar’ and ‘Nara-e-Taqbeer’ slogans. They are also heard saying, “Ye shahar zagmagaega, nur-e-la-illaha se, Ye desh zagmagaega, nur-e-la-ilaha se.Nara-e-takbir, Allahu Akbar”. The ‘students’ of the Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi were also seen abusing police with provocative words as they used tear gas to disperse the violent mob.
In another video that was shared by one of the radical Islamic groups called Tehzeeb Committee of Jamia Millia Islamia college, a ‘student’ can be seen making communal and provocative statements by claiming that ‘those who want to protect Muslims will have to protect Islam’. There were also several provocative statements that demanded Muslims to take to the streets. The “speech” was followed by a worrying slogan, “tera mera rishta kya, La ilahi illilah”. Similar statements were heard in Kashmir with respect to Pakistan by terrorists where they chanted “Pakistan se rishta kya, La ilahi illilah”.
As the police began to lathi-charge the students to calm down the situation, the protestors resorted to stone-pelting against these police officials.
According to the chargesheet, in this incident, 20 policemen were injured. The chargesheet says that this incident of violence was a direct result of the conspiracy being hatched since earlier in December and Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha and others were directly involved. They also believe that Sharjeel’s spectacles were broken during the violence.
When the violence in JMI had erupted, several media houses and other motivated intellectuals alleged that the violence merely happened because the police were being high handed in the face of peaceful protests. However, with the entire chronology up until the 13th of December, it is rather clear that the Islamist students were prepared for the violence since they knew the police would stop them from reaching the parliament. It is also clear that the Muslim students did not come together organically but there was a deep-rooted conspiracy behind the coming together of these organisations in which, elements like Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam and Yogendra Yadav were equally involved.
It is important to note here that Umar Khalid, Yogendra Yadav and Sharjeel Imam were in the same group and had met each other personally on days before the violence at Jamia. Sharjeel had, in fact, also said on the 7th of December that in the next week, they were planning something big. Further, Yogendra Yadav and others had an elaborate secret meeting in a basement on the 8th of December and thereafter, Sharjeel was given the responsibility of mobilisation and also, there were all in the same team called ‘CAB TEAM’.
Under the circumstances, one would have to assume that Yogendra Yadav knew exactly the communal nature of the protest, what was being planned exactly and the pamphlets being spread.
However, Yogendra Yadav’s tweet on the 13th December almost attempted to show as if he had really no idea what was going on at Jamia or even what was planned.
Teargas and police lathi charge in Jamia University on anti-CAB protest.— Yogendra Yadav (@_YogendraYadav) December 13, 2019
I guess the entire country is becoming normal!https://t.co/h2ZxadLAFf
Given the extent of his involvement that has now emerged in this chargesheet and will be revealed even further in the subsequent reports, this feigned ignorance is rather telling.