With Ved Prakash Surya, the deputy commissioner of police for northeast Delhi, standing beside him, the BJP leader Kapil Mishra delivered an incendiary speech at Maujpur Chowk, near Jaffrabad, on 23 February. Mishra warned that if the sit-in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at the Jaffrabad metro station was not cleared within three days, the matter would be taken out of the Delhi Police’s hands. Surya’s quiet presence besides a defiant Mishra seemed to send a clear message—the threat had the support of the Delhi Police.
The Hindu mobs of northeast Delhi did not wait three days. From the very next day, news broke of wide-scale violence in northeast Delhi neighbourhoods. As Surya’s passive demeanour had foretold, videos surfaced of the Delhi Police either quietly watching as Hindu mobs attacked Muslim neighbourhoods, or of personnel participating in the attacks. In one particularly chilling video, members of the Delhi Police can be seen forcing five individuals, visibly severely injured and lying on the ground, to sing the national anthem. Police personnel could be heard abusing the five men, taunting them with the word “azadi,” and urging them to sing better. On 27 February, one of the men, identified in news reports as Faizan, a resident of Kardampuri, died from his injuries.
This is not the first time that the Delhi Police stands accused of aiding and abetting targeted violence against the minority residents of the national capital. Delhi was the site of one of the bloodiest and most brutal massacres since Partition—the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984. In “Sins of Commission,” the cover story of the October 2014 issue of The Caravan, Hartosh Singh Bal examined testimonies submitted to various commissions investigating the pogrom, and demonstrated how the Delhi Police’s active involvement in the massacre was indisputable.