The Delhi Police on Wednesday 15 July submitted an affidavit in the Delhi High Court claiming that it hasn't found any evidence indicating that Kapil Mishra and other BJP leaders like Anurag Thakur and Pravesh Verma had any role in instigating the Northeast Delhi Riots.
The sworn affidavit has been signed by DCP (Legal) Rajesh Deo. The affidavit says that if any evidence is found linking the alleged offensive speeches with riots, "appropriate FIRs would be filed immediately", reported Livelaw.
The Delhi Police’s assertion is contradicted by a number of different sources.
First, a number of complaints have been filed in police stations in Northeast Delhi, alleging that he not only gave hate speeches in the area, he and his supporters also actively participated in the violence.
Second, a fact-finding report by the Delhi Minorities Commission has blamed Mishra’s speech for sparking communal violence in Northeast Delhi. As many a 53 people were killed and hundreds injured and displaced due to the violence that took place in the last week of February.
This story will lay down the allegations against Mishra in the complaints and the fact-finding report and also provide the BJP leader’s response to the same.
Complaints Against Kapil Mishra
The first complaint explicitly naming Mishra was filed on 23 February - the day violence erupted in Northeast Delhi. It was received at the Delhi Police Headquarters on 24 February.
Here are some excerpts from what the complaint says about the events of 23 February:
- "Mr Kapil Mishra along with a few of his henchmen who were armed with guns, swords, tridents, spears, sticks, stones, bottles, etc gathered there and started chanting communal and casteist slogans and thereafter Mr Kapil Mishra started giving a communal and inciteful speech (sIc)".
"“He (Kapil Mishra) said, ‘These Mulle were protesting against CAA and NRC all this while and now they will protest on the reservation issue as well. They have to be taught a lesson’. On hearing this Kapil Mishra’s henchmen attacked protesters gathered at Kardampuri with stones." - Complaint filed on 23 February
- “Mr Kapil Mishra was inciting the crowd by airing his gun in the open and shouting 'don't leave these b******s, today we need to teach them such a lesson that they forget how to protest'.”
- “Kapil Mishra and his henchmen in a well planned conspiracy started assaulting the individuals belonging to minority and Dalit communities. All limits were crossed when Mr Mishra while standing next to the DCP threatened that if the protest isn't called off in the next two days, the result will be really bad and even the police will not be able to stop us and we will not listen to the police.”
Another complaint naming Kapil Mishra was filed at Dayalpur Police Station on 17 March. The complainant is a resident of Yamuna Vihar.
Regarding what happened on 23 February, this complainant partly confirms what is written in the above complaint.
"“In the afternoon on 23 February, Kapil Mishra and his supporters kept stopping and breaking cars belonging to Muslims and Dalits,” " - Complaint at Dayalpur Police Station
Despite these two complaints filed months ago, the Delhi Police hasn’t even registered an FIR against Kapil Mishra, leave alone initiating an inquiry against him.
We have withheld the names of the complainants for safety reasons. We would be willing to share the details with the police if called upon to do so.
Delhi Minorities Commission Report
The Delhi Minorities Commission released its fact-finding report on the Northeast Delhi riots on Thursday, 16 July. Kapil Mishra’s speech at Maujpur on the afternoon of 23 February forms a key part of the chronology laid down by the fact-finding report.
The report says:
- “An incendiary public speech by BJP leader and former MLA Kapil Mishra on 23 February 2020 clearly incited violence in words and intent. Women-led peaceful protests were ongoing in North East Delhi at Jafrabad from January 2020, with over a hundred women sitting in protest near the Jafrabad Metro Station and another at Kardampuri near Maujpur Chowk Road.
- On 23 February, Kapil Mishra put out a call on social media to his supporters and subsequently led a rally in Maujpur, less than a kilometer away from the site of the Jafrabad sit-in protest.
- At about 5:30 pm, Kapil Mishra addressed the gathering in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner of Police for North East District Ved Prakash Surya, in fact with the DCP standing right next to him in full riot gear”.
The report quotes Mishra’s speech in which he allegedly said:
“This is what they wanted. This is why they blocked the roads. That’s why a riot-like situation has been created. From our side not a single stone has been pelted. DCP is standing beside us. On behalf of all of you, I am saying that till the time [US President] Trump goes back [from India], we are going to go forward peacefully. But after that, we will not listen to the Police if roads are not cleared after three days. By the time Trump goes, we request the Police to clear out Jafrabad and Chand Bagh. After that, we will have to come on the roads. Bharat mataki jai! Vande Mataram!”
In its findings section, the report slams the police for failing to act against Mishra. The report says:
- “Violence started in different pockets almost immediately after the short speech of Shri Kapil Mishra on 23 February 2020 at Maujpur in which he openly called for forcefully removing the protestors at Jafrabad in North East Delhi.
- He clearly said that he and his supporters will take matters into their own hands, alluding to extralegal vigilante tactics, in saying: “But after that we will not listen to the Police if roads are not cleared after three days...” The open admission of “not listening” to the police and extralegal tactics should have been seen by the authorities present as inciting violence.
- Deputy Commissioner of Police North East district, Shri Ved Prakash Surya, was standing right next to Shri Kapil Mishra when he said ‘after that we will not listen to the police…’.
- At this point, the police failed to apprehend and arrest Kapil Mishra and all those gathered to hear and cheered his speech. This indicates that they failed to take the first and most immediate preventive step needed to avoid violence from arising and protect life and property.”
The report says that not just Mishra, the speeches of BJP leaders directing hatred against CAA protesters vitiated the communal atmosphere in Northeast Delhi.
Kapil Mishra’s Response
The Quint reached out to Kapil Mishra for his response to the allegations made in the complaints.
However, instead of responding to the charges, the BJP leader said, “In my personal opinion The Quint is Anti India and Anti Hindu and totally biased against Truth (sic)”.
Centre’s Reluctance to Register FIR Against Kapil Mishra
The Delhi Police’s reluctance to file an FIR against Kapil Mishra and inquire into the complaints that have been filed need to be seen in line with the Centre’s earlier reluctance on this matter.
This reluctance was evident as early as 26 February, when the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Delhi High Court that “the situation wasn’t conducive” for filing an FIR against BJP leaders like Kapil Mishra.
This was in response to a petition seeking registration of an FIR against Mishra, Anurag Thakur and Pravesh Verma for their alleged hate speeches.
While hearing the petition, Justice Muralidhar expressed “anguish” that the city is burning and questioned the Delhi Police on the delay and its lack of acknowledgment of the speeches themselves as crimes.
The judge was later transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Despite this, the Solicitor General said that that FIRs will only be “registered at an appropriate stage”. The Centre was given four weeks to respond on the matter. It has been over four months, but there has been no FIR even now.
A same approach could be seen in the case of BJP councillor Kanhaiya Lal. The Delhi Police used the testimony of an eyewitness named Nisar Ahmed in three charge sheets but omitted all references to Kanhaiya Lal.
This reluctance is in sharp contrast with how the Delhi Police has treated alleged evidence against the anti-CAA protesters. The protests in Jamia Millia Islamia in December figure prominently in the “chronology” section in the charge sheets filed by the Delhi Police, despite the fact that these were two months before and 20 kilometers away from where the riots took place.
The Jamia protests were used as evidence against members of the Jamia Coordination Committee like Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar, who have been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
While Jamia protests from December were considered relevant enough for the organisers to be booked under UAPA, but Mishra’s speech at Maujpur hours before violence broke out at that very spot, weren’t considered worthy of even an FIR.
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