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Breaking down report on Delhi riots by Justice Lokur, others: Whitewashing of anti-Hindu roots of violence, cherry-picking facts to suit a dangerous narrative

The report is an essential practice in furthering a skewed narrative on the Delhi violence, essentially blaming the victims - the Hindus - and using the dead bodies to fulfil their agenda of censorship and exoneration of anti-National elements like Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid and others, while calling also for the dilution of UAPA to give such elements a free run, and implicating the government with no evidence whatsoever.

The Delhi Riots that saw Delhi burn in 2020 has become the battleground of narratives, where truth is the ultimate casualty. From the time the violence erupted to today, two years on, the Left-Islamist nexus has been trying its best to skew facts in favour of the aggressors and claim that it was pre-meditated violence by the Hindu community against the Muslim community. The facts, however, are far from it. Recently, a “Citizen’s report” released by a committee headed by retired Justice Madan B Lokur, analysing the Delhi anti-Hindu riots, furthered the same narrative by cherry-picking facts and distorting the truth.

In addition to Justice Lokur, the ‘committee’ which released the report titled “Uncertain Justice: A Citizen’s Committee Report on the North East Delhi Violence 2020”, comprised former Chief Justice of the Madras and Delhi High Courts A P Shah; former judge of the Delhi High Court R S Sodhi; former judge of the Patna High Court Anjana Prakash; and former Home Secretary G K Pillai.

If one reads the coverage in the corporate media, one is pressed to find any criticism of the report, even a cursory one. There seems to have been no reading of the report itself to figure out if the report is authentic. The media essentially bases their reporting on the “appeal to authority” argument fallacy, where they assume that since former Supreme Court judges released this report, it must be authentic. There has been no perusal of facts and misinformation due to omission or commission that are included in the 171-page report.

When one starts reading through the report, it executive summary of the report itself has several fallacies. The first paragraph of the executive summary itself says, “Polarisation between communities, particularly anti-Muslim hate, was deliberately fuelled in the months preceding the violence”. The report in this para says that the Muslim community was grappling with fears of losing their citizenship due to the compounding effect of CAA and nationwide NRC. In the entire report, the Justices refuse to mention who was fuelling the misinformation regarding CAA and NRC that fuelled that supposed fear of the Muslim community.

The Delhi Riots chargesheet number 59, which spans over 17,000 pages, tracks in excruciating detail the conspiracy to foment riots and unrest that started shaping on the 5th of December itself. 5th was the day after the Citizenship Amendment Bill was tabled in parliament. In short, on the 5th of December, Sharjeel Imam made WhatsApp groups of Muslim students and on the 6th of December, he started distributing pamphlets in mosques. 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 had misinformation about CAB and also, spoke about the destruction of the illegal structure previously on Ram Janmabhoomi, called Babri.

In the subsequent days, there was misinformation spread about CAB, protest marches held by United Against Hate and Sharjeel Imam categorically talking about “doing something big” next week. It is pertinent to note that violence had broken out on the 15th of December as well.

There were several meetings that were held between these “intellectuals” who were spreading fake news against CAB. On the 8th of December, this meeting was held, a picture of which is added to the chargesheet.

The picture of the 8th December meeting

On the same day, a WhatsApp group was formed called the ‘CAB TEAM’. The core members of the team were following: 

  1. Yogendra Yadav
  2. Umar Khalid
  3. Sharjeel Imam
  4. Nadeem Khan
  5. Parvej Alam etc.

Thereafter, “minutes of the meeting” of this core CAB team was shared in WhatsApp groups made by Sharjeel Imam (who was present at these meetings).

There were a few extremely points that must be highlighted. These were: 

  1. 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’. 
  2. Contact AMU and Jamia. It is pertinent to note that here is where the violence was triggered in December. 
  3. Contact international media like BBC, TRT and Al Jazeera. 
  4. Make contact with local mosques through 2-3 leaders. 
  5. 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.

While the 17,000-page chargesheet has several other details, these are sufficient to point towards the hollowness of the report by Justice Lokur and other retired Judges, given that there is no consideration in the report of any of these facts. In fact, when it is backed by evidence that the misinformation regarding CAA and NRC (mythical one, since there is no national draft for NRC yet) was spread by the anti-CAA protestors, predominantly Leftists and Islamists, one has to wonder how the report can lay the blame of the riots on “Anti-Muslim hate” and exonerate the Muslim community by claiming that they were scared of the implications of the laws. The report further lays the blame for the riots on the media (select media, of course) that supposedly “framed the anti-CAA protest as a Hindu vs Muslim narrative”. With slogans like “Hinduon ki kabar khudegi” and other details like how Tahir Hussain wanted to teach “Kafirs a lesson”, one has to wonder if it was the media responsible for framing the issue such or the anti-CAA protestors who were seeing the issue as a “us vs them” issue, and the media simply covered it, albeit, with several details conveniently left out.

The report also alludes to the speeches by Anurag Thakur and Kapil Mishra to say that it was their inflammatory speeches that led to the violence. Fact remains that Anurag Thakur’s speech took place only in January and the report holds it responsible for the violence. However, it leaves out several other inflammatory speeches by other politicians that took place in December itself – for example – it makes no mention of the speech by Sonia Gandhi where she asked people to take to the streets on the 14th of December, a day after which violence had erupted. Further, it fails to mention other Muslim-centric speeches and posts that contributed to the violence immensely.

Here is a post from the 11th of December of a “Shero” who was hailed as a brave Muslim protestor against CAA.

Post by Ladeeda Sakhaloon

In fact, while talking about Chargesheet 59, which is a 17,000-word chargesheet, the report by Justice Lokur and others only focuses on how UAPA should not be applicable to the speeches made by Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid and others in an attempt to dilute their offences. Tahir Hussain, who is one of the main conspirators of the Delhi violence, is mentioned 7 times in the 171-page report. 4 times to cherry-pick facts to trash the investigation of the Delhi police and 3 times to tangentially say the application of UAPA is not valid. None of his crimes and his confessions is added to the report because they clearly inconvenience the conclusion that the report wishes to reach. This is evidenced by the fact that in the entire section that actually attempts to detail the violence in Feb 2020, Tahir Hussain’s name is not mentioned even once.

Implicating Kapil Mishra in the riots, the report by Justice Lokur and others says:

“In response to a call for a nationwide protest, anti-CAA women protesters in the Seelampur-Jaffrabad area of North East Delhi blocked the road outside the Jaffrabad Metro Station on the night of February 22, 2020. From the morning of February 23, BJP leaders, prominently Kapil Mishra, as well as Hindu nationalist figures such as Ragini Tiwari, gave calls for mobilization and direct action against this group. At about 4 p.m. that day, Kapil Mishra delivered a speech at Maujpur Chowk close to the new anti-CAA protest site. He gave an ultimatum to the Delhi Police to “clear the roads in Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh” within 3 days, or he and his supporters would do so themselves. He was referring to the anti-CAA protests taking place in these localities. Shortly after his speech, stone pelting broke out between pro-CAA and anti-CAA groups in Maujpur and Jaffrabad. It becomes clear that the hateful content purveyed on 22-23 February was designed to incite, exhort and provoke actions of violence and these calls, thereby, appear to have acted as an immediate trigger to the break-out. The stone pelting across the Maujpur-Jaffrabad faultline spiralled into mass violence by the morning of 24 February. Stone pelting, arson, and gun violence by mobs on both sides spread through neighbourhoods across North East Delhi in the next few days. There were attacks on journalists reporting on the violence. Alleged police complicity adds another important layer to the nature of violence”.

In this craftily worded paragraph, the report fails to mention who started the violence and more importantly, the violence that preceded the Delhi anti-Hindu Riots. OpIndia had documented how Hindus had come under attack consistently since December 2019 almost on a regular and daily basis in the run-up to the Feb violence. The report can be accessed here on Kindle.

Moreover, the chargesheet categorically talks about which side started the violence on the 23rd of February. In the chargesheet, it categorically mentioned that it was the anti-CAA Muslims who had started pelting stones and indulging in violence at those who were demanding the re-opening of the roads blocked by the anti-CAA protestors.

Chargesheet excerpt

A group of individuals who were demanding the opening of the 66-Foot road near Jafrabad had assembled at Maujpur Chowk around 3:00 PM on 23rd February. The Maujpur Chowk where they had assembled was about 750 M away from the Jafrabad Metro Station. 

The charge sheet then reveals that the residents of Jafrabad and Kardampuri who were supporting the blockage of the Jafrabad metro station congregated in the thousands and started pelting stones from all quarters at the group that was demanding the re-opening of the roads.

While the police fired tear-gas shells etc to disperse the crowd, the situation remained tense. 

However, this portion of the charge sheet proves that the incidents of violence were indeed started by the anti-CAA protestors and were not a ‘clash’ per se between the two groups as earlier reported. 

It was on the 24th of February that a clash between two groups in Maujpur has been recorded in the charge sheet. However, on the 23rd, it is evident that it was the anti-CAA group that was attacking the group which wanted the re-opening of roads.

While the report tries to paint the Muslim community as blanket victims and leaves out material evidence that goes against their narrative, the report also craftily tries to downplay the brutal murders of Hindus.

In a section about Ankit Sharma, here is what the report says:

Excerpt from the Lokur report

In this section, the report by Justice Lokur and others pulls a slide of hand while saying that “the circumstances of Ankit Sharma’s death remain uncertain”. Firstly, it was not a “death” but a brutal murder where he received multiple stab wounds from Islamists. His postmortem report has details about the brutal torture that was inflicted upon the IB staffer by the goons of Tahir Hussain, who was an AAP leader and was subsequently suspended after the carnage. The chargesheet filed categorically says that Ankit Sharma was murdered by a mob led by Tahir Hussain.

The charge sheet said that Ankit Sharma was murdered outside the residence of Tahir Hussain in the Khajuri Khas area on February 25. After stabbing him multiple times, the mob threw his body into the nearby drain. A witness standing at a distance on a terrace captured the video on his mobile in which a mob is seen dumping the deceased body into the drain. The dead body was recovered from the drain the next morning.

The post-mortem report claimed that there were 51 sharp and blunt injuries found on Ankit Sharma’s body. Ten people including ex-AAP councillor Tahir Hussain have been arrested in this case. Further investigation has revealed that there is a deep-rooted conspiracy behind the riot and the murder of IB Official Ankit Sharma who was a very familiar face in the area. The charge sheet says that he was specifically targeted by the mob led by Tahir Hussain who was then a politician of the Aam Aadmi Party and a sitting councillor in East Delhi Municipal Corporation, Delhi.

The investigation has revealed that Tahir Hussain is the main person who had been instigating the mob both on the 24 and 25 of February in the Chand Bagh area. Another charge sheet against him has been filed for orchestrating riots on 24 February.

With these horrific details out in the public domain and mentioned in the chargesheet, the report on the Delhi violence states that the circumstances surrounding the death of Ankit Sharma are unclear and further, refuses to add the details of the role of Tahir Hussain and his mob.

The veracity and authenticity of the report is evident from the glaring omissions in the facts of the case, done deliberately to create a specific narrative.

The report also goes on to specifically indict the Ministry of Home Affairs with no evidence whatsoever. The report talks about how there was hardly any police deployment during the initial phase of the Delhi Riots. The report essentially tries to indicate that the Ministry of Home Affairs was somehow deliberately letting the fire burn during Delhi Riots. It is a fact that nearly 7,000 central paramilitary forces were deployed in the area from February 24th onwards. It is also a reported fact that three special commissioners, six joint commissioners, an additional commissioner, 22 DCPs, 20 ACPs, 60 inspectors, 1,200 male and 200 women personnel and 60 companies of outside forces were stationed at crucial locations. Union home minister Amit Shah reviewed the situation every two hours. However, none of these numbers is made available to the public in the report – they merely say that the inadequacy of deployment is evidenced by “official numbers”.

Beyond all of this, one would imagine that a bunch of former Supreme Court judges would be able to talk about the judicial nuances better than anyone else. In one section of the report, they talk about the case of one Dinesh Yadav – the first person to be convicted and sent to 5 years in jail in the case of Delhi anti-Hindu riots. The Justices allude to this case simply to mention one small portion of the case to trash the investigation by the police. However, they leave out criticising the massive loophole in his conviction itself.

Excerpt from the Lokur report

The Justices dishonestly gloss over the fact that the Dinesh Yadav’s conviction was a judicially unviable judgement for several reasons.

The two reports that detail how the judgement was legally untenable have been detailed here and here.

In all, the report by Justice Lokur and the others have certain specific aims and facts have been tortured to fit that specific narrative:

  1. The aim is to prove that Hindus were responsible for the riots (that were actually anti-Hindu in nature).
  2. That nationalist media and Hindu nationalists fired the violence and spread anti-Muslim hate for months preceding the violence.
  3. Dilution of UAPA – this is evidenced by the fact that they mostly focus only on chargesheet 59 (that too selectively) and have dedicated an entire section to talk about how UAPA should not be applicable to the cases of Tahir Hussain, Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid and the others.
  4. Call for a clamp down on social media and media at large for “hate speech”. This, of course, is being done with the specific aim of shutting down dialogue on social media, which essentially dampens their larger agenda, as it did during the Delhi Riots, to implicate Hindus and ensure that their narrative runs large.

Here is a portion that calls for clampdown on social media.

Excerpt from the Lokur report

The report titled “Uncertain Justice: A Citizen’s Committee Report on the North East Delhi Violence 2020” by Justice Lokur and others is an essential practice in furthering a skewed narrative on the Delhi violence, essentially blaming the victims – the Hindus – and using the dead bodies to fulfil their agenda of censorship and exoneration of anti-National elements like Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid and others, while calling also for the dilution of UAPA to give such elements a free run, and implicating the government with no evidence whatsoever.

While there are thousands of facts omitted and loopholes in this report, that can only be called pathetic, to put it kindly, these select facts are sufficient to prove that the rightful place of this report, which aims to be taken seriously simply because it has been endorsed by former SC judges, is in the trashcan.

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