Delhi Police hyperlinks Jahangirpuri violence to citizenship protests. Politics, say households of accused


Kusum Lata has been combing by means of the Delhi Police’s chargesheet on the Jahangirpuri violence. Her husband, 39-year-old Tabrez, is likely one of the foremost accused within the communal clashes that broke out within the locality on April 16. Lata exclaimed at each different line within the chargesheet.

“The police have known as my husband fanatically communal,” stated the 35-year-old legislation graduate. “If he was, why would he marry me, a Hindu, and by no means as soon as ask me to alter my faith or identify?”

They’d acquired married in 2016, she stated, after a courtship that lasted a few years.

In accordance with the police chargesheet produced earlier this month, Tabrez and 48-year-old Ishrafil Sheikh are the “foremost perpetrators and conspirators” of the clashes that broke out on the afternoon of April 16, when a Hanuman Jayanti rally crossed a mosque in Jahangirpuri.

In accordance with the police, the conspiracy could also be traced again to the protests in opposition to the Citizenship Modification Act and the proposed Nationwide Register of Residents, which began in December 2019.

The chargesheet suggests the Jahangirpuri violence was “in continuation of the protests in opposition to CAA and NRC in Shaheen Bagh and the northeast Delhi riots of 2020.” To again this declare, it factors out that Tabrez and Sheikh each participated within the anti-CAA protests.

“They’re making it sound like collaborating within the anti-CAA protests was legal,” stated Sheikh’s brother, 38-year-old Aminun Sheikh, who works at a cell phone restore store. “That was a combat for our rights.”

Whereas Sheikh, a waste collector who did building work on the aspect, has evaded arrest to this point, Tabrez has been in judicial custody since Might 6. Earlier than his arrest, he ran a training centre in Jahangirpuri.

His spouse Lata stated that they had certainly unfold the phrase in regards to the citizenship protests on the teaching centre, the place they each taught. “We have been going to protest websites to discuss our rights,” she stated.

The households of each males declare they’re being focused for his or her political connections. Sheikh needed to contest on a Congress ticket for the upcoming municipal elections. Tabrez’s spouse, Lata, ultimately grew to become the Congress candidate when it was discovered that the Jahangirpuri ward was reserved for Scheduled Castes.

Kusum Lata, Tabrez’s spouse, spends all her time eager about getting her husband out of jail. (Picture: Aishwarya S Iyer)

Three rallies, two FIRs

The rally that turned violent on April 16 was the third Hanuman Jayanti procession that day.

Two earlier rallies had handed with out incident – the members of the 2 communities had determined it could be higher to keep away from the street in entrance of the mosque because the loud music performed by the processions would disrupt namaaz. The third rally, organised by members of the Bajrang Dal, insisted on taking the mosque street.

Muslim residents of Jahangirpuri stated when the rally reached the mosque, some males tried to enter it and hoist saffron flags. These flags, printed with the slogan “Jai Sri Ram”, have been later discovered within the compound of the mosque. Hindus residents claimed that Muslims attacked them with bricks after “permitting” the rally to take the mosque street – the police chargesheet echoes this declare.

Days after the violence, the Bharatiya Janata Social gathering-led municipal company despatched bulldozers to Jahangirpuri. They demolished principally Muslim properties and retailers in addition to the doorway gate of the mosque, alleging they have been encroachments. The incident was one in all many throughout the nation that adopted the identical sample in April, when communal conflagrations broke out over spiritual rallies. In areas below BJP-ruled administrations, bulldozers have been deployed to tear down Muslim properties and retailers, which have been all of the sudden deemed to be encroachments.

Two first data experiences have been filed within the aftermath of the violence that broke out over the rally at Jahangirpuri. The primary was registered on April 16, reserving Mohammad Ansar – an area resident – and “four-five companions” for rioting and try to homicide. Ansar was arrested the identical day.

One other FIR was filed on April 17, in opposition to the organisers of the third rally, which didn’t have police permission. In Might, a Delhi court docket hauled up the police for accompanying the “unlawful procession”. The court docket stated that the difficulty “appears to have been merely brushed apart” by senior officers.

When spoke to Jahangirpuri Assistant Commissioner of Police Tilak Chand, he stated the matter was nonetheless below investigation, no chargesheet had been submitted and nobody had been arrested but. Chand additionally refused to share a duplicate of the FIR, saying it was too “delicate”.

The police appear to have centered on the April 16 FIR, which is the idea of the two,000-word chargesheet filed in July. It expands the checklist of the accused – 31 Muslims and 6 Hindus are named. Together with rioting and try to homicide, it provides expenses of conspiracy and offences below the Arms Act; the accused had allegedly snatched police weapons in the course of the incident.

Ansar is initially from West Bengal. Muslim residents of Jahangirpuri say he had certainly performed a component in negotiating with the Hanuman Jayanti rally organisers, asking them to mute their loudspeakers and keep away from the mosque street. However his efforts failed with the third rally. In accordance with the chargesheet filed on the primary FIR, these negotiations have been in actual fact “arguments” and “altercations” which spun uncontrolled.

Because it constructed a case in opposition to Ansar, the Delhi Police requested the Enforcement Directorate to analyze monetary irregularities within the buy of his properties. Conflicting claims about Ansar’s political affiliations additionally emerged – he was linked to the Aam Aadmi Social gathering, the Bharatiya Janata Social gathering and the Trinamool Congress on the identical time.

Whereas Ansar is known as within the chargesheet and stays in jail, the police appear to have shifted focus. Because it outlines a conspiracy across the April 16 violence, the chargesheet suggests Ansar was performing on the instructions of Tabrez and Sheikh.

Ishrafil Sheikh’s brother Aminun runs a one-room cell restore store in Jahangirpuri. (Picture: Aishwarya S Iyer)

Flashback 2020

The police have stated each Tabrez and Sheikh “instigated” individuals throughout protests in opposition to the Citizenship Modification Act – it’s supplied up as proof that the 2 have been concerned in a long-running conspiracy to foment hassle within the nationwide capital.

In accordance with the chargesheet, they made inflammatory speeches and took girls in buses from Jahangirpuri throughout town to Shaheen Bagh in February 2020. The hub of the anti-CAA mobilisations in Delhi, the Shaheen Bagh protests have been led by Muslim girls.

The households of each males are frank about participating within the protests however say the police have tried to criminalise this participation.

Lata was additionally candid about the truth that that they had organized buses to Shaheen Bagh on February 23, 2020. “Sure we went there, however we returned the identical day,” she stated. “The riots began a day later.”

Jahangirpuri, which is about 25 kilometres away from the North East Delhi neighbourhoods the place violence broke out, remained peaceable.

Nevertheless, the chargesheet goes on to say that after violence broke out in Northeast Delhi in February 2020, the 2 males exhorted Muslims to take “revenge”. Not less than 53 individuals have been killed within the violence, 36 of them Muslim.

Aminun Sheikh stated his brother was grilled for a number of hours by the Delhi Police within the aftermath of the violence. “If he was a legal, they’d have discovered one thing in opposition to him then,” he reasoned. “Would he not be in jail? However they let him go.”

Each households declare that as tensions ran excessive earlier than Hanuman Jayanti this 12 months, Tabrez and Sheikh have been requested by police officers to assist keep peace. Lata shared a photograph of Tabrez at a peace committee assembly held three days earlier than the April 16 rallies. “You may see him on stage together with the law enforcement officials,” she identified.

WhatsApp chats

Other than their hyperlinks to the protests, the chargesheet cites messages from WhatsApp chats as proof in opposition to Tabrez. In accordance with the police, Tabrez is an administrator of a WhatsApp group known as the “Kabutar Promote Group”, the place “hate speech messages in opposition to different communities/faith” have been shared.

The chargesheet refers to 2 messages, neither of which have been despatched by Tabrez.

One of many messages says, “the group which doesn’t elevate its voice in opposition to injustice solely shoulders corpses”. The opposite message discusses how peace can’t be achieved solely by Muslims; the opposite group have to be keen to maintain the peace as properly. This message says that, in the course of the pandemic, Muslims had opened up mosques and dargahs for sufferers of all religions, however now Hindus have been attacking mosques chanting “Jai Sri Ram”.

Lata stated she requested her husband in regards to the group on one of many every day five-minute calls they have been allowed whereas Tabrez was in custody. She claimed he instructed her he had no concept in regards to the group. “He’s in lots of of teams and doesn’t perceive expertise too properly,” she stated. “He should not haven’t even learn [the chats]. Anybody could make you an admin of a gaggle.”

She stated her husband was all for coaching and feeding pigeons – a standard passion in Delhi.

The chargesheet additionally mentions an audio be aware despatched by Tabrez to the group. In accordance with the chargesheet, he may be heard tutoring somebody on “easy methods to make a false grievance in opposition to the [April 16] procession” that led to violence.

“How can one say ‘false grievance’?” protested Lata. She felt there have been real grounds for a grievance in opposition to the third rally. “There was proof of saffron flags contained in the mosque, proper?”

The Idgah contained in the bylanes of Jahangirpuri the place Sheikh’s household have been organised the gathering to mourn their father’s loss of life. (Picture: Aishwarya S Iyer)

The third day of mourning

April 16 was the teeja, or third day of mourning, for Sheikh’s father. “Our father had died of a coronary heart assault and we have been holding a dawat [feast] for the teeja, the place 200-300 youngsters are known as and fed meals on the Idgah,” defined Aminun Sheikh.

The idgah, or prayer grounds, is simply behind the mosque the place the violence erupted. Whereas Sheikh was busy with the teeja, Tabrez was one of many mourners who attended it, their households stated.

The chargesheet notes that, “coincidentally”, there was a teeja that day. “However, when Ishrafil got here to know that [a] Hanuman Jayanti Shobha Yatra would come once more, he together with Tabrez deliberate to collect most potential individuals there in order to utilise them to assault upon the Yatra,” it stated.

Aminun Sheikh was appalled that the mourning ceremony ought to have been implicated within the alleged conspiracy. “So you might be saying we deliberate the violence on the third day of our father’s loss of life?” he demanded. “What sort of individuals do you suppose we’re?”

Sheikh’s spouse, 45-year-old Jashiman Bibi, echoed him: “Why would any son need such chaos on a day after they have been mourning their father?”

Whereas the teeja was nonetheless occurring, they stated, tear gasoline shells fell contained in the idgah compound and all of the friends fled. Solely the 2 brothers and the remainder of the quick household stayed behind to finish the rites.

Jashiman stated that they had struggled to make ends meet since Sheikh had gone on the run. “I’ve mortgaged jewelry value Rs 1 lakh for bills,” she stated.

The household stated they have been going to maneuver the Delhi Excessive Court docket for anticipatory bail. “I’ll promote a plot of land if I’ve to,” stated Aminun Sheikh.

Kusum was the Congress candidate for the 2022 municipal polls earlier than they have been pushed. (Picture: Aishwarya S Iyer)


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