DU prof questioned over Delhi riots, anti-CAA stir
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.”