Delhi Riots: Original Record Linked to Death of Man Preserved, Cops Tell HC

The city police on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court it has preserved its original record, such as daily diaries, arrest memos and duty roster, in connection with the death of a 23-year-old man who was allegedly forced to sing the national anthem during the 2020 northeast Delhi riots.

Counsel representing the Delhi Police told Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani that investigation in the matter is ongoing and the documents are in safe custody of a responsible police officer and can be produced before the court if asked.

The court was hearing a petition by Kismatun, the mother of deceased Faizan, who has sought a court-monitored SIT probe into the death of her son who along with four other Muslim men, was seen in a video that surfaced online after the incident.

In the video, Faizan could be seen being beaten up purportedly by some policemen while being forced to sing the national anthem and Vande Mataram’.

The woman has claimed that the police illegally detained her son and denied him critical health care due to which he succumbed to injuries on February 26, 2020.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the petitioner, argued in favour of transferring the probe from the Delhi Police, alleging there is “reluctance” in conducting a proper investigation in the case even when evidence is available and the probe does not “inspire confidence”.

She further said in spite of an expert examiner identifying two police officials featuring in the video, no custodial interrogation was carried out by the agency, and raised an apprehension that documentary record has not been preserved in original in the matter.

Special public prosecutor Amit Prasad submitted that certain documents in question are being relied upon in other cases as well and have been duly preserved in safe custody.

“SPP Amit Prasad has submitted that diaries/registers etc are available in original and have been preserved in safe custody of responsible officer and are available to be produced before the court as and when called,” noted the court.

Grover contended it was admitted that the perpetrators are police officials and yet no action was being taken by the investigating agency and “completely evasive” replies have been given by it in the status reports.

The status report filed in a sealed cover said the CCTV in police station was not “plugged in” and the case was “targeted hate crime”, she said.

“This is a targeted hate crime. We know what happened in George Floyd case…(but) here we are told we can’t find CCTV so we don’t know,” Grover argued.

During the hearing, Justice Bhambhani observed that investigation is a “perishable commodity” and asked if it can be done after three years.

Grover said in certain cases, SITs have been ordered to conduct probe by the high court “much later” and evidence was still available to be unearthed.

“This is a custodial murder. I was detained in Jyoti Nagar police station. He gave a dying declaration… There is reluctance. Evidence is available even today. If this is allowed, some citizens will never be safe,” she said.

The lawyer questioned why the deceased was kept in police station in detention when he was injured and required medical attention. She also highlighted that the postmortem report showed more injuries on the deceased than as indicated in an earlier medical report.

Besides CCTV footage, CDR (call detail record), etc, the court asked if video was also available from “random people” who take footage.

Prasad said the petitioner was trying to build a narrative and out of the four surviving victims, the statements of two have been recorded and two have “refused to come forward” and identify the alleged offenders.

In March last year, the police had told the high court that the case involved “technical evidence” and that the investigation has “zeroed down a head constable making the video” and not assaulting the victim and that no stone was being left unturned in the probe.

The court was then informed that the agency would take eight more weeks to complete the probe.

Grover has earlier argued that no arrest was made in the case and the police have made a false statement with respect to the status of CCTVs in the concerned police station and that the investigating agency was not probing the “second scene of crime” i.e the police station.

Earlier, the high court had questioned the police over the increased number of injuries (20) recorded in the postmortem report of deceased Faizan as compared to the medical report prepared prior to his detention in police custody where only three injuries were recorded.

The matter would be heard next on May 8.

Communal clashes broke out in northeast Delhi on February 24, 2020, after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control, leaving at least 53 people dead and around 700 injured.

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