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2020 Delhi Riots: Four Years On, Victims' Wait For Justice Continues

The riots were among the deadliest witnessed by Delhi in decades, and many victims continue to live in constant fear, haunted by reminders of the attack.

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A kid playing outside the gutted shop in Shiv Vihar which become the haunted colony for muslims, the worst affected locality of Delhi riots. Photo: Getty Images
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It has been four years since a violent mob ravaged the North-Eastern Muslim-majority neighbourhoods of Delhi claiming 53 lives, the wait for justice continues. The riots which lasted for three days had followed months-long protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) across the city.

North-East Delhi resident Mallika will never forget the screams of her husband as he begged for mercy while the mob bludgeoned him to death. In an interview with Outlook’s Rakhi Bose, Mallika said she had hidden him under the bed after her landlord informed her that armed mobs with torches and ‘sariyas’ were going from door to door and hunting down Muslim men. But they found him.

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“They beat him and bludgeoned his head with the rods. He kept begging for mercy till the time he died. My 12-year-old daughter asked them to stop in the name of humanity. They said, ‘We don't consider Muslims human’, They killed him in front of our eyes,” she told Outlook in March 2022.

Hundreds of residents were beaten, burned, shot at, and had acid thrown on them. Homes were wrecked, shops were vandalised, and vehicles were set ablaze. Many fled, and many died while trying to escape. The riots were among the deadliest witnessed by Delhi in decades, and many victims continue to live in constant fear, haunted by reminders of the attack.

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According to The Times of India, the Delhi Police had arrested 2,619 people in connection with the riots. Of these, 2,094 are currently out on bail and 172 people are in jail. 

Victims of the riots say that the real perpetrators behind the violence are outside whereas many innocent people were imprisoned for allegedly being part of a “conspiracy” in planning the violence.

About 758 reports were filed in total. One report, FIR 59, from 2020, accused 18 people of planning a bigger conspiracy in the 2020 riots, including activists Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid, Khalid Saifi and former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain. The Special Cell of the Delhi Police is investigating this report.

On Thursday, a court rejected the bail plea of an accused charged in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case related to the alleged conspiracy, according to PTI. Additional Sessions Judge Sameer Bajpai was hearing the regular bail application of accused Tasleem Ahmed, who had sought parity with the co-accused, Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal and Asif Iqbal Tanha who had been granted bail by the Delhi High Court on June 15, 2021. The court said “the opinion of the high court is with respect to the co-accused persons only and is not general and, therefore, cannot be considered for any other accused, including the applicant (Ahmed).”

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Earlier this month student activist and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) scholar Umar Khalid withdrew his bail plea in the Supreme Court with his lawyer Kapil Sibal stating that there had been a change in circumstances and they wanted to try their luck at the lower trial court. The withdrawal came after Khalid’s bail hearing was adjourned 14 times in the last four years.

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