Monika Arora 

Riots in Delhi 
From 23 to 25 February 2020 North East Delhi was devastated by severe street riots. The violence started on the 23 of February as a spillover from almost three months’ of street violence originating from politically and ideologically motivated protests against a constitutionally valid law the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). By the 24th of February it   rapidly turned into communal violence leaving 53 people dead and huge amounts of property destroyed.

On the 29th of February 2020, five members of the Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA) a Delhi based research group of women went to North East Delhi in a bid to understand the events as they had happened based on ground research. After painstaking data collection from the ground and meetings and research interviews with victims, community members and leaders from both the Hindu and Muslim community a fact finding report was made and submitted to the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Government of India on March 11 2020.

Evidence from ground research 

Data collected from the ground clearly revealed that the violence originated from anti-CAA protest sites and a model was sought to be implemented in North East Delhi as well as some other parts of the city. Refined over a period from December 2019 onwards in areas like Shaheen Bagh it was tested in North East Delhi from 23 February 2020 onwards. This model had certain key elements. Anti-CAA protests formed the defining idiom wherein protest sites were established in the near vicinity of a mosque. A daily dangerous cocktail of Hinduphobia anti-government and break the nation slogans and texts were fed to an anxious citizenry. Crowds were told that the ruling party is a ‘Hindu-nationalist’ party and therefore the Hindu neighbor will never rally in support of the Muslims. Political parties  engaged in first misinterpreting the CAA  and then radicalizing Muslims creating hysteria and insecurity and bringing them to the edge by constantly asking them to descend on the streets around 24 February 2020. Blocking arterial roads was a tactic developed in Shaheen Bagh and implemented with full integrity in Jaffrabad in North East Delhi. Women and children were put on the front and Police was violently attacked, public property burnt.

Delhi was being systematically subject to communalisation and violence from December 2019 itself and data collected from the ground reveals that protest sites against, the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) systematically established in Delhi since mid December 2019 were far from peaceful. These protest sites were manned and radicalised by Urban Naxals ( the term is taken from publicly available  literature issued by radical communists and denotes their networks in urban areas) and Jihadis( a radical ideology amongst Muslims who are also defined by their own literature available in the public domain). 
There were a total of 13 cases of rioting registered against Anti-CAA protesters in the Central, Southern and Eastern ranges of Delhi. Of these between 16- 20 December 2019, 7 cases of rioting and violence against anti-CAA protesters were registered in the Eastern range itself. The riot affected North East Delhi falls within this range. The locus of most of these rioting incidents by anti-CAA protesters was road number 66 connecting the GT road and the Wazirabad road where the riots broke out on 23 February 2020 after two carriageways on the road were blocked by Muslim women effectively cutting off a population of 25 Lakhs from access to other areas of Delhi and UP. 
Positive Role of Muslim community leaders 
Muslim leaders of Jaffrabad told the GIA research team that even in the face of intense provocation from mobs on the roads the Delhi Police with the help of these leaders engaged in conciliation and dialogue in the hope to clear the roads at Jaffrabad on 23 February 2020. However sustained attacks from outsiders in the anti-CAA rioting mobs rendered these efforts useless. Violent stone pelting anti- CAA protesters had hemmed into a lane largely inhabited by Hindus in the area from two sides in Maujpur barely half a kilometer away from Jaffrabad. The situation was tense. On the next day violence from the neighbouring Chand Bagh anti-CAA protest site set the communal riots rolling in full force as homes of ordinary citizens were burnt, petrol stations set on fire and a major national highway overtaken by the rioters. As a Delhi Police Constable  Ratan Lal was shot dead and lynched and his senior officer DCP Amit Sharma also stoned and beaten senseless, the situation rapidly spun out of control. 

Early Riot victims 
Some of the early victims of rioting anti-CAA mobs were persons like 19 year old Vivek Chaudhry who had a drilling machine slammed into the back of his head in his own shop. That he survived this attack is a miracle in itself. On 24th February Rahul Solanki and Rahul Singh  were shot dead barely a few meters out of their  house.  Dinesh Kumar Khatik  a Dalit was shot dead in precision sharpshooter style in ShivVihar. At night a crowd shouting Islamic slogans lynched Vinod Kumar Kashyap to death. It is estimated that Dilber Negi a young poor migrant from the Uttarakhand Hills was attacked; arms and legs cut off and burnt alive on the same night. 
Ankit Sharma an Intelligence Bureau staffer   was murdered allegedly in the house of Tahir Hussain a local Muslim political leader on 25 February in Khajuri Khas in the evening. By the 25th of February retaliatory violence from Hindus is estimated to have started leading to full fledged communal riots.  These are undisputable facts of the Delhi Riots 2020 and were cross checked by the GIA ground report of the riots and are available on public records.

CAA constitutionally sound law

It is regrettable that a constitutionally sound law like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 that has been passed by majority of members in the Indian Parliament was used to engineer communal riots. The Citizenship Amendment Act was widely debated both inside the Parliament and outside the Parliament before its passing. Thereafter it was passed by adopting the procedure established by law. It was also challenged in the Hon. Supreme Court which has not stayed its implementation .Hence it is legal valid and constitutional law. 
The CAA is a well timed targeted intervention to ease the process of grant of citizenship to the persecuted minorities of the Islamic States of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Thus the CAA is a legislation upholding minority rights as also Human Rights. It does not apply to Indian citizens and does not stop any Muslim from any country whatsoever from applying for Indian citizenship. 

Not a Muslim Pogrom 
Further the attempts by persons being investigated for the riots to discredit the Delhi Police by implicating them in the Delhi Riots 2020 as well as discrediting their probe is clearly inspired by an attempt to build a narrative that the Delhi Riots were a Muslim pogrom which by definition is State led violence against minorities.
There is ample evidence that rather than being responsible for organizing the Delhi Riots 2020, the Delhi Police was in fact at the receiving end of violence by rioting mobs of agitated minority women and men  that were prepared in advance with large caches of dangerous ammunition. Shahrukh Pathan, a local Muslim youth  pulling the gun on a lathi carrying police jawan is the most enduring image of eth Delhi Riots 2020. This certainly is not evidence of a pogrom organized by the State.
Legal process should prevail 
It is public record that out of the 1300 First Incident Reports filed in the cases related to Delhi Riots roughly equal persons from both the Hindu and Muslim communities are named. Out of these merely fifteen or so are Muslim activists and a couple of these would qualify to be students. In any case the Constitution of India mandates that rule of law must prevail. The investigation in the conspiracy to execute riots must be investigated thoroughly irrespective of the social economic religious or political standing of the person. No one should escape the long arm of law. It is of utmost importance that law be allowed to take its course and the truth behind the Delhi Riots 2020 be uncovered and justice be delivered to all victim irrespective of religious identity.
(Advocate Monika Arora is a Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and the convener of GIA that undertook a fact finding on the Delhi Riots 2020 in February )