Eight months on, Delhi Police ignores eyewitness complaints of Farooqia Masjid rampage

25 November 2020
The Delhi Police has ignored the complaints of two eyewitnesses in its investigation into the arson and rampage carried out in Brijpuri’s Farooqia Masjid during the communal violence in February. Both eyewitnesses were survivors of the attack who accused police officials and named individual rioters of the attack.
Shahid Tantray For The Caravan
The Delhi Police has ignored the complaints of two eyewitnesses in its investigation into the arson and rampage carried out in Brijpuri’s Farooqia Masjid during the communal violence in February. Both eyewitnesses were survivors of the attack who accused police officials and named individual rioters of the attack.
Shahid Tantray For The Caravan

Eight months after Hindu rioters and security personnel stormed the Farooqia Masjid, in the Brijpuri area of northeast Delhi’s Mustafabad locality, and killed people praying inside, the Delhi Police is yet to register a first information report against complaints about the attack. According to survivors, at around 6.30 pm on 25 February, on the third day of the communal violence that swept northeast Delhi, rioters and men in uniform had torched the mosque and brutally assaulted those who were praying inside, and left them for dead. Two survivors of the assault who were praying in the mosque at the time, Khursheed Saifi and Feroze Akhtar, filed complaints in March and April accusing the Delhi Police and naming rioters involved in the attack. But the only FIR registered into the communal attack appears to ignore their complaints.

The Caravan reported on the assault in the mosque in March, and noted that three survivors—including Akhtar—as well as other locals who witnessed the incident, identified the attackers as “force” or “policewaale”—policemen. The three survivors—Mufti Mohammad Tahir, a 30-year-old imam of the mosque; Jalaluddin, the mosque’s 44-year-old muezzin, who gives the calls for prayers; and Akhtar—said that the uniformed attackers brutally beat them with lathis and then set the mosque on fire. They estimated that between thirty and sixty uniformed men had attacked the mosque. The Caravan has also previously reported that the next day, the Delhi Police returned to the area, destroyed whatever CCTV cameras had survived the previous evening, and then torched a madrasa that stands adjacent to the mosque. None of these accusations have been recorded in the FIRs registered by the Delhi Police.

Akhtar is a tailor by profession who was praying in the mosque at the time of the attack. In a complaint filed in April, he wrote that rioters, policemen and “people in some green uniform” carrying weapons had stormed the mosque at around 6.30 pm, and launched a ruthless attack on everyone inside. Akhtar specifically identified the station house officer of Dayalpur police station, Tarkeshwar Singh, in his complaint, though he only mentioned him by his post, not his name. He said that the SHO entered the mosque with other police officials and the “people in green uniform” and “attacked those praying inside, and the people who tried to leave the mosque were shot by the police officials stationed outside.”

“I saw the policemen beating us mercilessly and then dragging us out of the mosque, leaving us for dead on the road,” Akhtar told me. “One man in police uniform even told his fellow assaulters that no Muslim body should remain inside the mosque as this will impure the land on which we will build up a ‘mandir’ now,” he added. “I remember we were at least five men offering namaz when the policemen stormed inside the mosque. Half of them got hold of me while the others ran in different directions, beating all of us with batons and iron rods.”

Akhtar identified three Hindu assailants—the person who runs the local Chawla General Store, whom he accused of shooting people with the police outside the mosque; one Rahul Verma, whom he accused of shooting people inside the mosque; and one Arun Basoya, whom he accused of throwing petrol bombs inside. He emphasised that the assailants violently assaulted the imam and the muezzin. Describing the attack on the former, he continued in the complaint, “the maulana sahab’s legs were placed on bricks and then on the SHO’s instructions, they beat his legs till they broke.” Akhtar wrote that he was beaten with an iron rod, which led to grievous injuries on his arms and his head, and then thrown into the anti-CAA protest tent while it was on fire. He added that he somehow managed to escape and survive.

Prabhjit Singh is a contributing writer at The Caravan.

Keywords: Delhi Violence Delhi Police Mustafabad northeast Delhi communal violence Anti-CAA Protests
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