Murder Conspiracy Hatched During Riots On phone Groups: Court
NEW DELHI, JULY 23—Taking cognizance of the chargesheet against the 11 men accused in the murder of a Muslim man during the riots in Northeast Delhi in February, a Delhi court judge, on Tuesday, termed the killing part of a “well-planned” conspiracy hatched on a WhatsApp group.
The Delhi Police also came in the firing line of the court for not invoking the appropriate sections relevant for targeting of the Muslims by the accused who, it said, were overcome by “bottomless stupidity of propaganda”, for their religion.
On June 4, the police filed chargesheet against the accused, Lokesh Kumar Solanki, Pankaj Sharma, Sumit Chaudhary, Ankit Chaudhary, Prince, Rishabh Chaudhary, Jatin Sharma, Vivek Panchal, Himanshu Thakur, Pawan Kumar and Lalit Kumar, in the case of murder of Aamir Khan. Aamir’s body was recovered from a drain in Gokulpuri.
All the 11 accused were charged with offences under sections 302 (murder), 144 (unlawful assembly), 147 and 148 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 201 (disappearance of evidence), 395 (dacoity), 396 (dacoity with murder), 427, 432 and 435 (mischief), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. If proved guilty, they will get a maximum punishment of death penalty.
On Tueday, chief metropolitan magistrate Purushottam Pathak had said, “…it is prima facie revealed that there was a well-hatched conspiracy among the accused persons. Same is evident from the fact that in order to take revenge on Muslims, some youths of that area who failed to perceive the “bottomless stupidity of the propaganda”, acted as saviours of their community and created a WhatsApp group.”
In the next hearing, the court will take up arguments on the charges to be framed against the accused.
How the case was busted?
Recounting the February 26 incident, the chargesheet says the police control room (PCR) was informed about a mob armed with stones, sticks, swords and iron rods allegedly shouting religious slogans by a caller at Bhagirathi Vihar where he had gone to search for his missing bike. Quoting the PCR caller, the chargesheet said the mob allegedly stopped and killed two persons on a bike after ascertaining their Muslim identity before throwing their bodies in the drain.
While investigating the case, the officers, the police said, noticed three people following the inspecting team at the scene of the crime. As their behavior raised suspicion, the team interrogated them. While scanning their mobile phones, the investigators found a WhatsApp group named ‘’Kattar Hindu Ekta’’. Soon, the team rounded up all the 11 members of the group who were identified by the PCR caller as being part of the mob that killed Aamir.
“It has been found that the common object of the unlawful assembly was not only to kill but also to destroy all evidence of that crime... There cannot be any doubt that the accused who killed Aamir Khan were certainly up to their neck in the conspiracy and were thus very active members of the unlawful assembly,” the court said.
At least 53 people were killed and over 200 injured and property worth crores destroyed in the violence and arson that swept parts of Northeast Delhi between February 23 and 27.
While the use of WhatsApp in the riots has been amply reported in the media, this is the first time a court confirmed that the app was indeed widely used in organising mobs to commit heinous crimes against a Muslims during the riots.
Earlier, Delhi Police Additional PRO Anil Mittal had said, that “During the investigation of these cases, it was found that during the peak rioting, a ‘Whatsapp’ group was created in the intervening night of 25/26.02.2020, which had 125 members.”
The WhatsApp Group which was first named ‘Kattar Hindut Ekta (a misspelling of ‘Kattar Hindu Ekta’), was changed at least four times to such titles as ‘Hindu Unity’ and ‘Hindu Ekta Group’ before being finally changed to ‘Hindu Ekta Zindabad’. Its purpose was to mobilise rioters, keep a watch on their neighbourhoods, ensure killing of “mullahs” and share arms and ammunition.
(The story has been written by Rasheeduddin Khaja)