Muslim victims of 2020 Delhi violence ‘losing hopes of justice’

Original news article here.

A year on, many Muslim victims of the riots still fear further bloodletting. Hundreds have abandoned their gutted homes, many selling up at throwaway prices, and moved elsewhere.

Those who chose to stay have fortified their neighbourhoods with metal gates in case of more mob attacks. Many say they fear those responsible will never be held to account.

“Everything has changed since the riots,” Khan said. “I think I am slowly losing all my hopes of justice.”

Khan spent 20 days recovering in the hospital after being shot. Since then, he has been seeking justice that he says has been impeded by police at every turn.

Khan’s official police complaint, seen by The Associated Press, named at least six Hindu individuals from his neighbourhood who he said participated in the violence.

“The accused still come to my home and threaten me with killing my entire family,” Khan said in the complaint, adding that he was willing to identify them in court.

His complaint was never officially accepted.

Police, however, filed their own complaint, giving a version of events that placed Khan at least a kilometre (0.6 miles) from where he was shot, suggesting he was injured in the crossfire between two clashing groups. It did not identify his attackers.

The stories of many other Muslim victims follow a similar pattern. Police and investigators have dismissed hundreds of complaints against Hindu rioters, citing a lack of evidence despite multiple witness accounts.

They include a man who saw his brother fatally shot, a father of a 4-month-old baby who witnessed his home being torched and a young boy who lost both his arms after Hindu mobs threw a crude bomb at him.

Now, many make weekly trips to lawyer Mehmood Pracha’s office, hoping for justice. Very few have seen their attackers put behind bars. Many others are still waiting for their cases to be heard in court.

Pracha, a Muslim, is representing at least 100 riot victims for free. He said there were multiple instances in which police were provided videos of Hindu mobs, many with links to Modi’s party, “but it seems that police were eager to implicate Muslims” in the riots.

He said in many cases Muslims were also “threatened to withdraw their complaints”.

“The police have acted as partners in crime,” Pracha said.

Multiple videos of the riots seen by the AP show police egging on Hindu mobs to throw stones at Muslims, destroying surveillance cameras and beating a group of Muslim men – one of whom later died.

Multiple independent fact-finding missions and rights groups have documented the role of the police in the riots.

In June 2020, Human Rights Watch said “police failed to respond adequately” during the riots and were at times “complicit” in attacks against Muslims. It also said authorities “failed to conduct impartial and transparent investigations”.

Haroon, who goes by one name, said he was “still scared of going out in the evening”.

He saw his brother Maroof fatally shot by his Hindu neighbours during the riots. The police never identified the accused in his complaint, despite multiple eyewitnesses.

Meanwhile, Haroon said, he was threatened by the police and the accused to withdraw his complaint.

“We were alone then and we are alone now,” he said nearly in tears as his dead brother’s two children sat beside him.

Haroon looked at them and said: “I don’t know what to do.”

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