2020 Delhi riots were pre-planned, pre-meditated conspiracy: Delhi HC
The February 2020 Delhi riots were a "pre-planned" and "pre-meditated" conspiracy to disturb law and order in the city, the Delhi High Court said Monday. The comments were made while denying bail to Mohammad Ibrahim in the Head Constable Ratan Lal murder case during the North East Delhi riots. "The riots evidently did not take place in the spur of the moment," it said.
The court said the conduct of the protesters seen in the video footage submitted by the prosecution makes it clear that the riots were a "calculated attempt to dislocate the functioning of the Government." "The systematic disconnection and destruction of the CCTV cameras also confirmed the existence of a pre-planned and pre-meditated conspiracy to disturb law and order in the city," the HC continued.
Referring to the CCTV footage, the court said, "The pre-planned nature of the riots is also evident from the fact that innumerable rioters ruthlessly descended with sticks, dandas, bats, etc. upon a hopelessly outnumbered cohort of police officials."
The court also underscored its previous observation that personal liberty is important in a democracy, noting "individual liberty" cannot be misused to threaten the fabric of society. "Individual liberty cannot be misused in a manner that threatens the very fabric of civilized society...attempting to destabilize it and cause hurt to other persons." The observation was made as CCTV footage showed Ibrahim with a sword.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim's lawyer argued that Ratan Lal's death wasn't caused by a sword and he was carrying it only for self-defense. Rejecting the arguments, the HC said even though Ibrahim was not seen at the crime scene, he traveled 1.6 km from his neighborhood with a sword. The HC maintained this is sufficient to reject the bail plea as the act itself is "egregious."
The case involved a mob attack on policemen at Chand Bagh in North East Delhi at the peak of the Delhi riots last year. A constable, who registered the case, claimed that protesters attacked DCP Shahdara, ACP Gokulpuri, and Head Constable Ratan Lal, due to which they sustained grievous injuries. Ratan Lal later succumbed to his injury while another official was severely injured.
Notably, while Ibrahim's bail plea was rejected, another accused, Mohammad Saleem Khan, was granted bail on Monday. The court had recently granted bail to Shahnawaz and Mohammad Ayyub while denying it to Sadiq and Irshad Ali. The HC had earlier granted bail to five others.