RNA - In the worst communal violence in decades in New Delhi on February 23, nearly 50 people were killed and over 100 wounded as groups chanting Hindu nationalist slogans torched mosques and dozens of Muslim houses after looting shops and businesses.
The deadly violence, taking place on the eve of a state visit by US President Donald Trump who is infamous for his anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies, followed widespread protests over a citizenship law that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government introduced in December last year.
The legislation offered a path to Indian citizenship for six religious groups from neighboring countries, specifically excluding Muslims.
During the February 23 incident, Muslim protesters were accused by the Indian police as well as radical Hindus of triggering clashes and the ensuing violence by blocking a major route that linked Shaheen Bagh district in New Delhi to Noida city in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
In a new report published in response to an Indian court inquiring about the incident, however, the Indian police revealed that Noida-Delhi route had been barricaded by Delhi Police and not the protesters.
Saket Gokhale, a political activist, shared in a Twitter thread the response to a Right to Information Act (RTI) query he had received from Delhi Police.
“In reply to my RTI about the Noida-Delhi road closure, the Delhi Police have admitted that what Shaheen Bagh protesters said all along was true -- that the Kalindi Kunj alternative road from Noida was blocked by the Delhi Police & NOT the protesters,” read the tweet.
In reply to my RTI about the Noida-Delhi road closure, the @DelhiPolice have admitted that what Shaheen Bagh protestors said all along was true -
that the Kalindi Kunj alternative road from Noida was blocked by the Delhi Police & NOT the protestors.
— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) March 13, 2020
“The police begin the RTI response by talking about Jamia and the usual "burning of buses" garbage (which is totally irrelevant). Then they mention that Shaheen Bagh protestors occupied Road No. 13A (Pls note that the occupied part was only 100-150 meters).”
“Then they admit that it was the local police who barricaded the roads going to/from Noida & diverted traffic from the Kalindi Kunj border. This blocking of an alternate route was COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY as these barricades were far away from the actual protest site,” wrote Gokhale
“Police also claim that Shaheen Bagh protesters blocked the other side of the road using stones & iron railings which is blatantly FALSE as anyone visiting the site can see for themselves. Delhi Police blocked these roads purely to create resentment against the protesters,” the activist noted in a series of tweets.
The Indian Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a plea against the removal of Shaheen Bagh protesters on March 23.
India has been engulfed by protests since early December last year, when the country’s parliament passed the citizenship act, which is seen as discriminatory toward Muslims. Under the law, migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan will be allowed to claim Indian citizenship — but not if they are Muslims.
Modi’s government is accused of encouraging religious intolerance and seeking to transform India into a Hindu state.