Take tough measures against mobs, cops, identify vulnerable areas: CHRI

Take tough measures against mobs, cops, identify vulnerable areas: CHRI

New Delhi, Feb 26 – Calling on both Central and Delhi governments to take all necessary measures to prevent further violence and disruption while fixing responsibility for police inaction and the failure of the civil and political administration, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) today said that there was need for a focused review to find ways of preventing escalation.

This would include identifying tense and vulnerable pockets and deploying security personnel to prevent further violence and protect all communities. There is ample evidence through video footage to register cases and identify perpetrators and take firm action against propogandists of hate speech and violence as well as emerging evidence of police brutality during the violence which grew out of confrontation over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act.

“The unabated rioting, mob violence, looting and arson in parts of North-east Delhi, communally charged situation and use of small arms by some members of the crowds is a stinging indictment of the repeated failure of the Union Government under which the Delhi Police functions,” said CHRI’s India Executive Board in a statement, urging Government to take swift action against rioters and their instigators “without fear or showing favour to any group or community “. The human rights body pointed out that the conditions showed a deep malaise within the system especially the political and police leadership.

“It is not enough to fault the police: there appears to be a systemic breakdown in governance and failure to respond to a situation which has developed over time,” CHRI said. The statement pointed out that any inquiry, to have a lasting impact, must suggest sustainable remedial measures including whether the visit by President Trump took away crucial police personnel and numbers at a crucial time leading to insufficient deployment.

CHRI expressed condolences to the families of those who had died in the riots, including a police officer, and urged all political parties to create an atmosphere to instil confidence in an area gripped by fear, anger and suspicion.

It said that lessons had not been learned from earlier eruptions in the city over the past decades — including the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, the anti-reservation agitation of 1989 or from the various inquiries that had tried to fix responsibility on “why the police looked the other way.” Many of these cases are still languishing in courts with victims and their relatives struggling in the criminal justice system.

“Before the riots erupted, there was clear instigation with provocative speeches and calls to violence by individual political leaders and groups,” said the CHRI EC, headed by Wajahat Habibullah, the former Chief Information Commissioner. Mr. Habibullah was asked to assist the Supreme Court appointed interlocuters seeking to resolve the issues raised by the Shaheen Bagh sit-in. Those responsible for such instigation needed to face the full force of the law as it had led to a loss of lives and injuries destruction of private and public property. “Time and again, from December 2019, after the violence outside Jamia Milia Islamia, it appears as if mobs were given a free hand to attack and intimidate while police response was either ineffectual, slow or, at worst, seemingly partisan.”

Issued by

Wajahat Habibullah , Chairperson, and Sanjoy Hazarika, International Director, on behalf of the EC which includes Justice Madan Lokur, Justice AP Shah, B.K. Chandrashekhar, Maja Daruwala, Jayanto Choudhury, Kamal Kumar, Jacob Punnoose, Nitin Desai, Vineeta Rai, Poonam Muttreja

About SAWM Team

South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) is a network of women media professionals in South Asia. SAWM works for freedom of press, increased participation of women in the media, a gender-sensitive work environment and a gender-equal outlook in the media. Launched in April 2008, SAWM’s central secretariat is in Lahore, Pakistan and the association has country chapters in eight members of SAARC. SAWM helps women working in media to network across borders, and with international rights organizations, to assert their rights and defend their interests.