The handling of Delhi riot cases has attracted a lot of adverse comments recently and there has been a special concern that innocent persons, including some known for defending constitutional principles and social harmony should not be implicated in any false cases. In this context it is important to draw special attention to the criticism as well as the strong need for corrective action voiced by several very senior retired police officers themselves.
Whenever we remember the courage and dedication of some of our bravest and most capable police officers, the name of Julio Ribeiro is always taken with special respect and a certain awe because of the way in which he risked his life time and again in confronting the secessionist, extremely violent khalistanis , not to mention many notorious underworld dons. I remember reporting from Punjab during those troubled times, and remember the great respect Ribeiro and his close police colleagues like Chaman Lal commanded among people living in very difficult times.
The same Julio Ribeiro, who has continued to take up justice-based causes despite his advancing years, has felt constrained to write, “The Delhi Police has taken action against peaceful protestors but deliberately failed to register cognizable offences against those who made hate speeches which triggered the riots in N.E. Delhi.’’
Further he has written, ‘’ The not-so-subtle attempt by the Delhi Police to entangle true patriots, like Harsh Mander and Prof. Apoorvanand, in criminal cases is another matter for concern.”
Pointing to the most important duty of the police, he has reminded at a critical time, ‘’ We, the police forces in the land, and its leadership drawn from the Indian Police Service, have a duty and obligation to respect the Constitution and the enacted laws, impartially without regard to caste, creed and political affiliations.”
What is more these significant critical comments made by Julio Ribeiro have not been made in isolation. These were soon followed by equally significant critical comments made by nine senior IPS officers ( retired). The signatories of this second letter include such senior officers as Mohinderpal Aulakh (former Director General of Police (Jails, Punjab), A.S. Dulat (former OSD on Kashmir, Prime Minister’s Office), Aloke B. Lal (former Director General (Prosecution), Uttarakhand), Amitabh Mathur (former Director, Aviation Research Centre and former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat), Avinash Mohananey (former Director General of Police, Sikkim), P.G.J. Nampoothiri (former Director General of Police, Gujarat) , A.K. Samanta (former Director General of Police (Intelligence), West Bengal) Shafi Alam (former Director General, National Crime Records Bureau) and K. Saleem Ali (former Special Director, CBI).
This second letter signed by these three senior IPS officers ( retired) says,“…[W]e would like to say that it indeed is a sad day in the history of Indian police that investigations and challans submitted in the court by Delhi Police in connection with riots of this year are widely believed to be partisan and politically motivated. It pains all those police officers, serving as well as retired, who believe in upholding the rule of law and our Constitution.”
“What pains us more is implicating all those who spoke and joined protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). They were simply exercising their fundamental rights of freedom of speech and peaceful protests as guaranteed by the Constitution. Basing investigations on “disclosures” without concrete evidence violates all principles of fair investigation. While implicating leaders and activists, who expressed their views against CAA, all those who instigated violence and are associated with the ruling party have been let off the hook.
“Such investigation will only make people lose faith in democracy, justice, fairness and the Constitution. A dangerous thought that may ultimately shake the pillars of an orderly society and lead to breakdown of law and order.
The retired IPS officers conclude with sage advice,
“We would, therefore, earnestly request you for reinvestigation of all riot cases fairly and without any bias based on sound principles of criminal investigations to provide justice to the victims and their families and for upholding the rule of law.”
This is sage advice of their own distinguished elders which should not be ignored by the police officers who are investigating Delhi riots.
The writer is a freelance journalist and author.. His latest books are Protecting Earth for Children and Planet in Peril.