The Indian government has said that the violence in some areas of Delhi was part of a “well-planned conspiracy”

A news article in The New York Times on March 12, with the headline, ‘If We Kill You, Nothing Will Happen’: How Delhi’s Police Turned Against Muslims, is based on wrong, incomplete, or misleading information.

Ongoing investigation shows that the violence was the result of a “well-planned conspiracy” and several people had come to Delhi from the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh “specifically to incite riots”, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Wednesday. Delhi Police not only acted firmly to prevent the riots from spreading to other areas, it has since arrested or detained as many as 2,647 people.

We look at some of the claims made in the article and explain what actually happened, backed by facts.

Now, more evidence is emerging that the Delhi police, who are under the direct command of Mr. Modi’s government and have very few Muslim officers, concertedly moved against Muslims and at times actively helped the Hindu mobs that rampaged in New Delhi in late February, burning down Muslim homes and targeting Muslim families.

To say that the Delhi Police concertedly moved against the Muslims and at times actively helped the rioting mobs is a travesty of the truth. In a detailed statement in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah categorically refuted the charge that Delhi Police sided with the rioting mob.

The Indian government has said that the violence was part of a “well-planned conspiracy” and planning appears to have been underway for a long time. Security agencies are investigating Hawala (illegal money transfer) transactions that took place after January and three people who financed the riots have been arrested by Delhi Police. Two persons affiliated with ISIS have also been held for stoking communal violence, the Union Home Minister said.

A Delhi Police constable lost his life and several senior officers were seriously injured while trying to control the mob violence. This would not have happened if the force was siding with the rioting mobs.

The government and Delhi Police have been proactive in ensuring peace and communal harmony in Delhi’s affected areas. More than 650 Peace Committee meetings have taken place till date, with representation from all communities being ensured, the Union Home Minister said.

Several videos showed police officers beating and throwing rocks at Muslim protesters and waving on Hindu mobs to join them.

On some occasions, the police had to resort to throwing stones in order to deter the rioters while maintaining restraint, Amit Shah pointed out. This would definitely not have been the case if the police wanted to give a free hand to the rioters. The allegation about police officers waving on Hindu mobs to join them while they threw stones has been denied by top Delhi Police officers.

Some researchers accuse the police force of deliberately putting too few officers on the streets, with inadequate firepower, as the violence morphed from clashes between rival protesters into targeted killings of Muslims.

There is no question of Delhi Police deliberately putting “too few officers” on the streets. On February 23 and 24, 30 to 40 companies (over 3,000 to 4,000 personnel) of Delhi Police and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) were deployed in the affected areas.

The riots were contained within 36 hours after the first incident was reported at 2 pm on February 24. Not a single incident of rioting took place after 11 pm on February 25. The riots were limited to 4% area and 13% population of Delhi, Union Home Minister Shah said in the Lok Sabha.

The riots spread fast because of the high population density of the affected areas, which has a mixed population. The narrow lanes prevented effective timely intervention by police vehicles and rescue by ambulances.

More than 80 companies of paramilitary forces were still deployed in the affected areas, with specialised strike forces created to quickly control the riots if such a situation arises again, Shah pointed out.

The claim of “targeted killing of Muslims” is patently false. The victims included many members of other communities as well. Every victim was an Indian, Union Home Minister Shah emphasised on Wednesday, making an appeal not to refer to them on the basis of their religion.

Muslim leaders see the violence as a state-sanctioned campaign to teach them a lesson.

The area affected by violence has a mixed population and members of different communities and faiths were all affected.

“Several people crossed over from Uttar Pradesh specifically to incite riots, which shows that this was a well-planned conspiracy,” Union Home Minister Shah said. He pointed out that one of the first actions on the part of the police was the sealing of the UP-Delhi border at 10 PM on 24th of February.

Delhi Police and intelligence agencies have come up with a precise sequence of events in the run-up to the violence. Union Home Minister Amit Shah provided the following details in the Lok Sabha.

A dharna (protest) began in Shaheen Bagh on December 16, two days after a rally by political parties opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). A WhatsApp group United Against Hate was created on February 17. Some leaders gave an inflammatory speech on February 19. This led to protests by 8-9 groups in the area and culminated into riots, Shah said. The Union Home Minister said that some vested interests had incited and misled the minorities and indulged in fear mongering that CAA would take away their citizenship which is not true.

For The New York Times to call it an organised massacre is highly irresponsible.

Here are some quick facts on action taken by the Delhi Police that The New York Times could have looked at for a better understanding of what is being done to bring the culprits to justice.

  • A case of conspiracy has been registered

  • Two Special Investigation Teams have been formed under senior police officers to investigate the riots

  • More than 700 FIRs have been registered

  • As many as 2,647 people have been detained or arrested

  • CCTV footage is being analysed on over 25 computers to identify the perpetrators of the violence

  • Many common people have come forward with the footage they shot on their phones

  • More than 1,100 people have been identified, and 40 teams have been formed to arrest them