OPINION | Jahangirpuri: Do not spread hatred and lies, let police finish its probe

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OPINION | Jahangirpuri: Do not spread hatred and lies, let police finish its probe

Fresh revelations have come forward that clearly establish that the violent clashes that took place during Hanuman Jayanti in Delhi’s crime-prone Jahangirpuri area on Saturday, was not a spontaneous clash, but was part of a pre-planned conspiracy.

Delhi Police has sent its preliminary report to the Ministry of Home Affairs in which it described the riot as a “pre-planned criminal conspiracy”. It describes how several bags filled with stones, bricks and empty bottles were stored on terraces by the conspirators. The facts that Delhi Police have collected about the miscreants who attacked the procession are surprising. Till now, 24 persons including the mastermind Ansar have been arrested and 15 others are being interrogated.
Police have registered FIRs against both the rioters and the organizers of the procession who had not taken prior permission. Prem Sharma, the district Sewa Pramukh of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, was interrogated by police on Monday. While Hindu leaders allege that the procession was stoned as part of a pre-planned conspiracy, Muslim leaders allege that swords and guns were brandished by some of those who took part in the procession.
Muslim leaders alleged that inflammatory slogans were chanted outside the mosque, and Muslims retaliated. Both sides have started circulating videos on social media to justify their allegations.
Muslim leaders alleged that saffron flag was hoisted on the mosque, but Hindu leaders say that no saffron flag was hoisted nor did anybody from the procession forcibly enter the mosque.
Muslim leaders alleged that Delhi Police took action only against Muslims, but Delhi Police chief Rakesh Asthana said, people from both communities were rounded up. Asthana added that police never takes action on the basis of religion but on the basis of evidence.
Presently, police teams are combing through all call detail records of mastermind Ansar and his other associates. A list of local criminals active in the Jahangirpuri area is also being checked to probe the conspiracy. So far, Delhi Police have collected nearly 150 videos about the riots. FRS (Facial Recognition System) software is being used to match the faces of those who took part in the riots.
Nearly 100 suspects have been interrogated by Delhi Police teams till now. All cell phones used by suspects are being checked for traces of their WhatsApp, and Telegram groups. Police teams are also checking which social media accounts were being followed by the suspects.
Delhi Police Crime Branch teams picked up eight suspects on Monday from Kushal Chowk, C Block, and other blocks of Jahangirpuri. On Monday evening, Police arrested Sonu Sheikh, who was firing with his pistol during the riots and was absconding for two days. One of the bullets hit a police sub-inspector who is still undergoing treatment.
India TV reporter Abhay Parashar went to Sonu Sheikh’s house, where his mother Asafiya said, they hailed from Haldia, West Bengal and Sonu used to earn money by collecting parking charges. She recognized her son firing from a pistol in the video but said Sonu never had any such weapon. He might have taken the pistol from somebody else, his mother said. She said, Sonu had come home to break ‘roza’(fast) but went out soon after hearing commotion in the locality.  
Police is yet to recover the pistol from Sonu. His brother, Salim Sheikh was arrested soon after the riot. Salim has a chicken shop and police have charged him for indulging in stoning, breaking the peace, attacking policemen, and keeping illegal weapons.
The mastermind, Ansar, is an interesting fellow. He was smiling and posing like the hero of the movie ‘Pushpa: The Rise’, when he was being taken to court by police. A scrap dealer (kabaadi) by profession, Ansar, has posed in several photographs wearing costly gold ornaments. He has been in the business of extorting money and helping the poor and the needy. A known history-sheeter, there are already seven cases registered against him.
In another photograph, Ansar is shown with costly imported liquor bottles. A resident of B Block, this 35-year-old man was arrested twice earlier and had been to jail. He also took part in the anti-CAA protests two years ago. Our reporter found that Mohammed Ansar has grabbed several parts of the main road in Jahangirpuri and has also occupied the MCD park area worth several hundred crores of rupees. He handed out portions of grabbed land to others to stay on rent and used to collect protection money.
In another photograph, he was shown wearing an Aam Aadmi Party cap, but our reporter later found the photo to be morphed. Delhi Police chief said, there is evidence against the mastermind of the riot, Ansar, but AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi claimed that Ansar had been helping local residents for several years. Owaisi alleged that police is only arresting Muslims, but no action was taken against Hindus who were brandishing swords during the procession.
Owaisi claimed that Ansar was trying to pacify the mob, but he was arrested by police. Owaisi may allege that 14 Muslims were arrested, but it is also a fact that seven Hindus have also been arrested after the riot. They include Suraj, Neeraj, Suken, Suresh and Sujit Sarkar. Two Hindu juveniles were also arrested. Their names have been kept confidential under law.
Delhi Police chief Rakesh Asthana has rubbished Owaisi’s charge that those who took part in the procession forcibly hoisted a saffron flag on the mosque. India TV reporter spoke to an eyewitness Mohammed Ibrahim, who lives in a house near the mosque. Ibrahim told our reporter that the procession had already crossed the mosque peacefully, after locals persuaded them to move head, but the trouble began when the procession reached a square.
Sonu’s mother admits that her son fired from a pistol out of anger, Ibrahim, who stays near the mosque, says no saffron flag was hoisted there, the scrap dealer Mohammed Ansar is a local ‘Robin Hood’ who swaggered like the rebel hero of the movie Pushpa. I have seen the video in which people brandishing swords and guns in a procession has been shown.
All this evidence is very perturbing. Both sides know the truth but are unwilling to admit it. Neither side is ready to accept the other side’s opinion. This seems to be a battle of egos, where both sides are alleging that the other camp is spreading hatred and inciting people.
To reach the bottom of the truth, Delhi Police will have to investigate impartially, vigorously, and dispassionately. Till the time, the probe is not over, police must ensure that people show not spread lies and falsehoods and incite the feelings of others.
Only a handful of people try to spread hatred, while the vast majority in both communities want to live in peace. There are localities like Jagatpuri and Seelampur in Delhi, where Muslims, observing Ramzan, showered flowers on Hanuman Jayanti processions. Let us learn from them.

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