Former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) worker, Khalid Saifi is well known among the activist network in Delhi. And the Khureji Khas is one of twelve locations in the city where Shaheen Bagh model anti-CAA protests were held. The protest there was conducted on the side of the road, adjacent to a petrol pump in a way not even interrupting the traffic. On 26 February, Delhi police descended on that scene and tried to demolish the protest tent.
The ensuing commotion roused Khalid Saifi living nearby, and he came out of home. As he was talking to the policemen there, the police took him into custody and a female activist, Ishrat Jahan. What was heard next was the news of arrest of both of them with charges of murder. The video footage of the happenings there clearly showed Khalid Saifi walking along the road, then talking to the police and then the police taking him into custody. But when Saifi was produced before the court three days ago, he was in wheelchair!
Both his feet are in plastered condition with visible wounds on hands as well. Saifi, who was arrested in a healthy physical condition and then seen in this shape, was enough to stun many of his friends. It was the serious injury he suffered during police custody that got the young man in this plight. Saifi's is not an isolated experience. This is a sample of what central home minister Amit Shah describes as putting down the riot in Delhi. The minister has also arrayed figures of FIR's filed and people arrested.
But the home minister is adept at putting an ingenious secular spin that it is not proper to seek the figures of casualties by religion. He is saying this not because of h is supreme fondness for secularism. The reason on the other hand is that a detailed look at the cases charged and people arrested, would easily convince any that Delhi police had behaved in a clearly communally partisan manner, during the violence and after it.
The number of complaints about missing children and husbands, received at the help desk that was set up on 4 March by voluntary organizations in Mustafabad in Delhi, has reached 13 at the time of writing this. There have been rampant reports of people in the police stations being taken to custody when the victims of the riot approach the police stations with their grievances. Going by what MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi said in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, 1,100 Muslim youth are in police custody.
Owaisi also alleged that the police was extracting bribes from these young men. His allegation came not in the middle of a street-side speech, but in parliament. But the home minister was not prepared to respond to the statement. What he did instead was to give a technical reply mentioning the number of police battalions and paramilitary forces sent to the scene of trouble.
The Opposition alleged in the Lok Sabha that when Delhi was burning, Modi and Amit Shah were playing flute. In fact they were not playing flute, but were lending all support to the rioters. And it is untrue also to say the police was inert during the violence. They were quite actively participating in the violence along with the rioters. Many such footage have been shot and telecast by international media including the BBC.
And lately post-riot, the police is targeting those who espouse the cause of victims and those who provide relief to them. Perhaps, Delhi's police is behaving in a worse manner than they did during the riot. But the only difference is that this does not attract as much media attention as those during the violence. It is to cover up this bitter truth that the home minister is coming out with mermerising numbers. This is a time when human rights activists and advocates of democracy should intervene ever more vigilantly. There is no point in hoping that perpetrators of violence will be punished at all. But there should not be a situation when the victims are tortured further.