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Delhi riots: Court calls for probe to see if cops were shielding accused

Delhi riots: Court calls for probe to see if cops were shielding accused
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New Delhi: A Delhi court has now ordered the police to investigate whether a deliberate attempt was made to shield five men — whom the court had to discharge for the lack of sufficient evidence in relation to a case related to the north-east Delhi riots last February.

Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat discharged the five men accused of allegedly being part of a riotous mob, looting a medical shop and house of the complainant Firoz Khan, and taking away medicines and cosmetics worth about Rs 22-23 lakh on February 25, 2020.

The complaint also alleged that the Hindu rioters were chanting "Jai Shree Ram" throughout the attack and that they had also ransacked their home on the second floor and stolen his wife's cash and jewellery.

The judge said the accused were not let off because the incident in question did not happen or that they were falsely implicated but merely for the reason that there was no sufficient evidence produced against them.

"Let the DCP North-East District conduct an enquiry into the manner in which the investigation was conducted by the IO in this case to find out whether or not there had been any deliberate attempt to shield the offenders and submit a report to this court on the next date of hearing," he ordered.

The sessions judge further noted that Firoz Khan was the only witness in the case who claimed to have identified the accused as assailants and that too from the photographs shown to him in the police station.

"There should be sufficient and legally admissible evidence on the basis of which charges can be framed against an accused, which is lacking in the instant case," ASJ Bhat stated in the order dated November 22, adding that in such cases of rioting, at least two prosecution witnesses must hold up the identification of the accused and their roles.

He said the chargesheet did not indicate whether or not the investigating officer (IO) made any efforts to trace other witnesses.

"It is not clear as to whether the IO chose not to find out any other witness or whether no other person came forward who had seen the incident in question," the judge said.

But before ordering the inquiry into whether the accused were deliberately shielded by investigators, the court added, "I may note that material on record does clearly indicate that riotous incident in question has taken place wherein the shop as well as house of the complainant was vandalised and looted. This court is not insensitive towards the mental agony and the financial loss suffered by the complainant due to this incident. However, the sensitivity or the emotions alone are not the factors to be taken into consideration by the court while deciding the fate of any accused."

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi in February 2020, after violence between the Citizenship (Amendment) Act supporters and its protesters spiraled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and over 700 injured.

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