At least 53 people, mostly Muslims, died in the violence that left hundreds injured
Last year’s large-scale communal violence in the Indian capital did not take place “in the spur of the moment” and was instead a “pre-mediated conspiracy” to disturb law and order, the Delhi High Court said on Monday.
Justice Subramonium Prasad made the observation while passing an order in a case related to the killing of a Delhi Police head constable during the clashes, according to Live Law.
He granted bail to one of the accused in the case and denied relief to another booked in the matter.
Clashes had broken in North East Delhi in February 2020 between the supporters and opponents of the Citizenship Amendment Act, which introduced a religious criterion for citizenship for the first time. At least 53 people, mostly Muslims, died in the violence. Hundreds were injured.
On Monday, the Delhi High Court said that in video footage of the clashes, the conduct of protestors “visibly portrays that it was a calculated attempt to dislocate the functioning of the government as well as to disrupt the normal life of the people in the city”, according to Live Law.
The judge pointed out that rioters damaged CCTV cameras and said that the act confirmed that there was a “pre-planned and pre-meditated” conspiracy to cause unrest in the city.
He added: “This is also evident from the fact that innumerable rioters ruthlessly descended with sticks, bats etc. upon a hopelessly outnumbered cohort of police officials.”
In this particular case, the Delhi Police had filed a First Information Report noting that a violent mob carrying sticks, baseball bats, iron rods and stones had gathered at the main road in the Wazirabad area on the afternoon of February 24, 2020.
As the crowd became violent, the police used force and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse it. However, the protesters attacked other people as well as police officers, the FIR stated.
During the clashes, Delhi Police’s Head Constable Ratan Lal, deputy commissioner of police of Shahdara district and assistant commissioner of police of Gokulpuri police station sustained injuries, the FIR mentioned. Lal was declared dead after being taken to a hospital.
The Delhi High Court judge said that one of the accused persons, Mohd Ibrahim, had been seen in the CCTV camera footage carrying a sword.
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“In light of this, the footage of the Petitioner with the sword is quite egregious, and is therefore sufficient to keep the Petitioner in custody,” Prasad said, according to Live Law.
However, another accused person, Mohammad Saleem Khan, was granted bail. The court noted that each member of the mob could not be charged for murder. The court also observed that there was lack of electronic evidence to prove the presence of some of those accused in the case.
“It is egregious and against the principles enshrined in our Constitution to allow an accused to remain languishing behind bars during the pendency of the trial,” the court had said, while granting bail to five accused persons on September 3.
On September 14, the court gave the relief to two of the accused persons and denied bail to two of them.
Of the 11 accused persons who had filed bail pleas in the case, eight have been granted the relief.