Co-Written by Dr. P. S. Sahni & Shobha Aggarwal
“If crime itself assumes authority and power
And hunts down people, holding them criminals,
Everyone endowed with a mouth who keeps silent,
Becomes (a) criminal himself.”
- Varavara Rao
Incarcerated Telegu poet Varavara Rao must feel satisfied that several brave men and women coming from different faiths have refused to be silent accomplices. They were members of the fact finding committee constituted by Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) to enquire into the February 2020 violence in Delhi. In the Report they have named the man who heads the Union Home Ministry – the very same Ministry courtesy which Varavara Rao nay thousands of others are imprisoned. The 130 odd paged Report is available in various formats at: https://archive.org/details/dmc-delhi-riot-fact-report-2020. It needs to be translated into all Indian languages included in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution of India. The Report has compiled the testimony of journalists – all from the non-Muslim community – who had filed their on-the-spot reports as any journalists should as per the criteria laid down by George Orwell:
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”
But for the factual reports of these journalists the world would not have known the truth about the violence.
The DMC Report indicts the Delhi Police for being either complicit (against the Muslims) or being mute spectators to the violence unleashed on the minority community. The Report journeys us through the peaceful, continuous protest launched by women at Shaheen Bagh, Delhi against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC); how violence was unleashed through a conspiracy to damn the peaceful protest which had received worldwide attention. The Report records how efforts to lodge FIRs by Muslims got thwarted; how the victimized members of the minority community were made out to be accused by the Police! Even the promised compensation has largely evaded the victims.
Similarities with 1992 violence
Ironically the 1992 anti-Muslim violence in Delhi resulted after the Muslims were silently protesting/mourning the martyrdom/demolition of Babri Masjid, Ayodhya. The role of police; obstruction to filing of FIRs by Muslims; victims being made the accused; compensation being denied to most victims – the whole chain of events was no different from that of 2020 Delhi violence. We can testify to this as we at ABVA had worked amongst the victims and brought out a Citizens’ report titled “Victims’ Version”. The report was authored by Arun Bhandari; Jagdish Bhardwaje; Manoj Pande; Dr. Puneet Bedi; Dr. P. S. Sahni.
We recall how the Supreme Court then reacted to a petition filed by civil liberties champion V.M. Tarkunde, formerly judge, Bombay High Court and now since deceased on behalf of the victims. The petition had appended all the reports documented by activists on the issue. Shoving away the file the judges disagreed that the Delhi Police is communal. And with that the petition was dismissed!
Sham enquiry into 1984 anti-Sikh violence
Significantly after the anti-Sikh violence in November 1984 the Rajiv Gandhi government appointed Js. Ranganath Misra, then Judge Supreme Court as a one-man commission to enquire into the violence. Js. Misra exonerated the higher echelons of the ruling Congress (I) party and put the blame on the lower level functionaries. The moral courage and conviction of the ten member fact finding team of DMC contrasts sharply with that shown by Js. Misra. The DMC Report becomes a template for all future efforts everywhere in similar situations.
Yet these are troubled times:
“How topsy-turvy is this world
Those who ought to be in the dock
Have in their hand
Key to the prison.”
A peoples’ movement could upset apple cart.
Dr. P. Sahni & Shobha Aggarwal are members of PIL Watch Group & ABVA. Email: email@example.com