The chargesheet has named as accused, among others, United Against Hate activist Khalid Saifi; Congress ex-councillor Ishrat Jahan; AAP ex-councillor Tahir Hussain; RJD youth wing’s Meeran Haider; Pinjda Tod activists Gulfisha Fatima, Safoora Zargar, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita.
Six other accused — Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Danish, Parvez, Ilyas and Faizal Khan — have been arrested in this case but not named in this chargesheet. Police will file supplementary chargesheets naming them and other people who may be arrested. The accused have been charged under a plethora of sections of IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Took weeks of planning, says chargesheet
The Indian Penal Code sections pertain to criminal conspiracy (120B) read with murder, sedition, promoting enmity between two groups, rioting, dacoity and several others. Sections of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and Arms Act have also been invoked.
The chargesheet was filed in the court of additional sessions judge Amitabh Rawat at the Karkardooma courts in the capital.
Delhi Police have said in the chargesheet that the top conspirators were directly in touch with the men on the ground when the violence broke out on February 24. “Multiple Whatsapp groups were made dedicated to 20 sites where anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests were taking place. There was a systematic mobilisation of the crowd to incite violence in the garb of anti-CAA protests,” the police told the court.
The police have also concluded that the riots and protests were funded by several groups, including PFI, and it took weeks of planning to stock weapons, stones, arms and ammunition like Molotov cocktails on terraces to be used in the riots, thereby indicating a premeditated conspiracy.
Delhi Police said that during their investigation, they examined and listed 747 witnesses to back their case. The witnesses include “insiders” who have helped the cops understand how the Whatsapp groups were used to coordinate the protests. These “insiders” are learnt to have recorded their statements before a magistrate under section 164 ofCode of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which is admissible as evidence. In their statements, the witnesses have explained how these groups were created for the sole purpose of violence and riots.
A major portion of the evidence is in electronic form as the data from 75 electronic devices seized from the accused have been analysed and enclosed with the chargesheet. The extracted data from the devices includes text messages and Whatsapp chats between individuals and groups.
“Based upon scientific, documentary and testimonial evidence, 15 accused have now been charge-sheeted out of 21 persons arrested so far. The remaining six persons are expected to be chargesheeted in due course after collecting sufficient evidence and completing statutory and procedural requirements,” the police said.
“The chargesheet submitted today runs into 11 volumes, totalling over 17,000 pages. The hon’ble court has been requested to take cognizance of the offences and begin the trial of the chargesheeted accused persons,” the police added.
In a statement released after filing of the chargesheet, Delhi Police said: “Claims amounting to more than Rs 20 crore to compensate for loss of property have been filed before the GNCTD, which indicates the scale and immense cost of the tragedy.” The statement said that around 16,000 PCR calls had been received during the violence and 751 cases were registered by the police. “Fifty nine cases were assigned to an SIT constituted in the Crime Branch, 691 cases were investigated by the district police and one case which was registered on March 6, 2020 to investigate the larger conspiracy behind these riots was assigned to the Special Cell.”
“In the course of investigation of the 750 FIRs registered concerning the specific offences committed during the riots, 12 pistols, 121 empty cartridges, 92 live cartridges, 61 glass bottles filled with noxious chemicals and an assortment of sharp-edged weapons have been seized so far by Delhi Police,” said the statement.