Indian police deliberately targeted Muslims during Delhi riots: NYT report

Published March 12, 2020
In this file photo, demonstrators gather along a road scattered with stones following clashes between supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law at Bhajanpura area of New Delhi on February 24. — AFP/File
In this file photo, demonstrators gather along a road scattered with stones following clashes between supporters and opponents of a new citizenship law at Bhajanpura area of New Delhi on February 24. — AFP/File

A report published by the The New York Times on Thursday said that recent evidence suggests that New Delhi police "concertedly moved against Muslims" and "actively helped Hindu mobs" that targeted Muslims and their homes during the deadly riots that gripped the Indian capital last month.

At least 50 people were killed in Delhi's worst communal violence in decades, over two-thirds of them from India's Muslim minority, according to hospital lists. Mosques were burnt and vandalised along with Hindu-owned shops and at least 15 Hindus were killed.

Ground report: How the riots unfolded in Delhi's Chand Bagh

According to the publication, several videos have surfaced of Delhi police assaulting Muslims protesters, and urging Hindu mobs to join.

The report also quoted a police commander as saying that as the violence erupted — attributed to mostly Hindu mobs — officials were told to deposit their guns at the police station; NYT journalists later heard officials yelling to one another that they needed guns, not sticks, to confront the growing mobs.

It also highlighted that majority of those that were killed in the violent clashes were Muslims.

The report also accuses India's police force of being "politicised" by Modi's ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, citing the example of a school principal who was jailed on sedition charges for staging a play about the country's new citizenship law.

Read: Inside Delhi: beaten, lynched and burnt alive

“There’s a method to this madness,” the report quoted Umar Khalid, a Muslim activist, as saying. “The government wants to bring the entire Muslim community to their knees, to beg for their lives, and beg for their livelihoods.”

“You can read it in their books," he said. “They believe India’s Muslims should live in perpetual fear.”

Shahid Siddiqui, a former member of Parliament, was also quoted in the report as saying: "Indian police are extremely colonial and caste-ist."

Police behavior, he said, is always “more violent and aggressive toward the weak".

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