DU prof ques­tioned over Delhi ri­ots, anti-CAA stir

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Gurugram - HT Cor­re­spon­dent htre­porters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: Delhi Univer­sity (DU) pro­fes­sor Apoor­vanand was ques­tioned by the Delhi Po­lice’s special cell on Mon­day in con­nec­tion with the on­go­ing probe into the north-east Delhi ri­ots that took place in Fe­bru­ary.

On Tues­day, Apoor­vanand tweeted his state­ment that on Mon­day he was called by the special cell to ap­pear for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He wrote, “I spent five hours there. The Delhi Po­lice also con­sid­ered it nec­es­sary to seize my phone for the pur­pose of in­ves­ti­ga­tion. While co­op­er­at­ing and re­spect­ing the rights of po­lice to con­duct a full, fair and thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion, one can only hope that the probe would fo­cus on the real in­sti­ga­tors and per­pe­tra­tors of the vi­o­lence against a peace­ful cit­i­zens’ protest and the peo­ple of north-east Delhi.”

When con­tacted, the pro­fes­sor said Mon­day was the first time he had been ap­proached by the po­lice. “I am sur­prised if not shocked. I want to put it on record that I was not ha­rassed.The in­ter­ac­tion was very po­lite and cour­te­ous. But to even as­sume that I may have in­for­ma­tion about the mur­ders and the rob­bery that took place as part of the ri­ots is wrong. I have been a critic of the new cit­i­zen­ship law but, at the same time, I had also op­posed the road block­ade dur­ing anti-CAA (Cit­i­zen­ship (Amend­ment) Act) protests. Some of us went to Jafrabad, Khureji and other (protest) sites, ask­ing peo­ple not to block roads. In Khureji, we suc­ceeded in ad­vis­ing peo­ple to va­cate the roads, but we failed in other places. It is on record (so­cial me­dia video record­ings) that we had asked peo­ple not to block roads. That form of protest has ex­hausted its life. But it is equally er­ro­neous to say that the protests were them­selves a source of vi­o­lence. In fact the vi­o­lence was un­leashed on them,” he said.

Apoor­vanand, a pro­fes­sor at DU’s de­part­ment of Hindi, said an in­ves­ti­gat­ing agency is within its right to sum­mon any­one for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion but it was “dis­turb­ing to see a the­ory emerg­ing which treats sup­port­ers of the pro­test­ers as source of vi­o­lence”.

“I would urge and ex­pect the po­lice to be thor­ough, just and fair so that the truth pre­vails. The real per­pe­tra­tors of the vi­o­lence will be let off if one fol­lows this nar­ra­tive. Also, if po­lice say the vi­o­lence was planned at protest sites, then I would call it an ab­ject fail­ure of in­tel­li­gence.”

A Delhi Po­lice spokesper­son con­firmed that the pro­fes­sor was sum­moned in a case re­lat­ing to north-east ri­ots and that he had ar­rived at the special cell of­fice in Lodhi Colony on Mon­day. “As a part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, his mo­bile phone was taken into pos­ses­sion by the in­ves­ti­ga­tion team,” the spokesper­son said, while re­fus­ing to com­ment on the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

On Satur­day, the special cell had also ques­tioned for­mer JNU stu­dent Umar Khalid on his al­leged role in the north-east ri­ots in Fe­bru­ary, in which 53 per­sons were killed and over 400 in­jured.

Po­lice have al­leged that Khalid, a prom­i­nent voice dur­ing the anti- CAA protests, was one of the main per­sons who or­ches­trated the ri­ots along with lo­cal politi­cians and a few ac­tivists. Satur­day was the first time that Khalid was ques­tioned, though his name fig­ures in mul­ti­ple charge sheets filed in the ri­ots cases.

Apart from the 700 cases reg­is­tered by the lo­cal po­lice and the crime branch in the ri­ots, the special cell (anti-ter­ror unit) reg­is­tered an FIR 59/2020 to probe the larger con­spir­acy be­hind the vi­o­lence that raged from Fe­bru­ary 23 to 26. As part of the probe, po­lice have ar­rested many who had led protests against the Cit­i­zen­ship (Amend­ment) Act.

Some of these ar­rested per­sons, who were prom­i­nent faces of the protests, such as Jamia stu­dent Safoora Zar­gar, Shar­jeel Imam, and Meeran Haider, among oth­ers, have ac­cused the po­lice of tar­get­ing anti-gov­ern­ment voices un­der the garb of prob­ing the ri­ots.

Po­lice have said some lead­ers of the CAA protests had mo­bilised peo­ple, spread false­hood about the new law and or­ches­trated the ri­ots. But Zar­gar, Imam and Haider have de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and said they had only held peace­ful demon­stra­tions.

Apoor­vanand in his state­ment on Twit­ter also said the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion should not lead to fur­ther ha­rass­ment and vic­tim­i­sa­tion of pro­test­ers who as­serted their demo­cratic right through con­sti­tu­tional means while ex­press­ing their dis­sent to the pas­sage of CAA and the de­ci­sion of the Union gov­ern­ment to op­er­a­tionalise the Na­tional Pop­u­la­tion Reg­is­ter and the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of Cit­i­zens.”

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