‘Hate Crime And Custodial Murder, Targeted For Religion’: Mother Of Man Forced To Sing ‘Vande Mataram’ During Delhi Riots Tells High Court

Update: 2023-03-22 13:35 GMT

The mother of a 23 year-old Faizan, who was forced to sing Vande Mataram during the 2020 North-East Delhi riots, Wednesday told Delhi High Court that her son’s death is a “hate crime and custodial murder”. He was “targeted for his religion,” her counsel submitted.The incident relates to a video that had gone viral on social media wherein Faizan was seen allegedly being beaten by...

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The mother of a 23 year-old Faizan, who was forced to sing Vande Mataram during the 2020 North-East Delhi riots, Wednesday told Delhi High Court that her son’s death is a “hate crime and custodial murder”. He was “targeted for his religion,” her counsel submitted.

The incident relates to a video that had gone viral on social media wherein Faizan was seen allegedly being beaten by the police, along with four other men, while being forced to sing Vande Mataram.

Advocate Vrinda Grover made the submission before Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani who was hearing the plea filed by Kismatun, Faizan's mother, seeking a SIT probe into her son’s death.

Delhi police had illegally detained the man and denied him critical health care as a result of which he succumbed to injuries on February 26, 2020, his family alleges. Faizan died at city’s GTB hospital within 24 hours of his release from Jyoti Nagar police station, where he was taken after being allegedly assaulted by police officers.

Grover submitted that it was an admitted case that the policemen assaulted Faizan and that he was kept in illegal detention in the police station from the evening of 24 February, 2020, to night of February 25, 2020, after which he expired within 24 hours.

Grover further submitted that the medico-legal certificate (MLC) of GTB hospital mentioned that Faizan should be referred for neurosurgery.

“They (police) said we provided him food, with safe place, and humanitarian kindness was shown… Can they detain someone who is severely, grievously injured in police station and provide no medical treatment which leads to me succumbing to injuries?”, Grover said.

As Justice Bhambhani questioned SPP Amit Prasad on the status of investigation of the FIR pertaining to Faizan’s death, the prosecutor submitted that the investigation is ongoing.

“The reason is that video footage was retrieved from social media which has very bad pixel quality. It cannot be enhanced much. I am open to inspection of my records by this court,” Prasad said.

In response, Grover submitted that the same stand was taken by the police in the the status reports filed before the court.

Nothing has changed since 2020. It is exactly the same thing they said to the court, she said.

Continuing her arguments, Grover said: “There are two limbs of the investigation. First is, every single status report from the start focus on these nameless or faceless policemen who can be seen in not only one but more video clips and they have admitted that they are police officers. There is no investigation on the second limb regarding those whose identities are known. When they are beaten up, in public view, they are taken to Jyoti nagar police station by two policemen… which was the gypsy, who were the officers, they would have known the identity of them who had beaten me up on the road… but there has been a complete silence.”

As Grover told court that the CCTV cameras present inside the police station were not working on the relevant date, SPP Prasad submitted that out of the five injured men, statements were recorded of four of them.

“Two refused to come forward for recording of statements under Section 164 of CrPC and said we don’t identify the set of people who are recorded in the video. There were multiple other families inside the police station as well, their statements have been recorded including of two men who survived and were in the police station. They said nothing happened at the police station,” he submitted.

However, Grover submitted that it was a custodial murder and questioned the police’s conduct in not investigating the police officers in the matter.

“Can the police keep someone in police station who desperately needs treatment? It is not just an unfortunate incident. It's an incident where one would expect leadership of the Delhi Police said that who are these men…This is a hate crime. I am targeted for my religion. It is visible in the video. In other jurisdictions, we know what happened in the George Floyd case…the police did their own review and said there was racism. Here I am told that they can’t find CCTV footage and we don’t know. If they can’t find it then this court can have a responsible officer who may unearth the evidence,” Grover said.

She submitted: “This is a custodial murder. First custody is with the policemen who targeted me. And after that I am in custody of the police station Jyoti Nagar where I was detained. Injuries increased. He had given a dying declaration. We know who was on duty at the police station. Why is there no investigation into the police station? We are told we will not look into that direction. They have washed their hands off this investigation.”

The court recorded Grover’s apprehension that the Delhi police’s response filed in the sealed cover does not expressly confirm if the documents or evidence like case diary, general diary, station diary, duty roster and arrest memos for the relevant period have been preserved in original form or are available in safe custody of the responsible officer and if they will be available to be produced in original form before court.

However, on instructions of the initial ACP and present IO, SPP Prasad submitted that the documents in question are in fact available in the original form and have been preserved under safe custody of the responsible officer.

Concluding her submissions, Grover submitted:

“They have identified two people. I won’t disclose any names, it was mentioned in the status report which was filed in sealed cover and the court had allowed me to peruse it. They put them through all kinds of lie detector, polygraph test etc. because there's a video technology system which they claim they used. Photo matching was done and the report of the expert said that its one and the same person. Then they go through some tests. No custodial interrogation ever of someone whose image was confirmed by expert. A person who should be interrogated for murder and custodial violence, is never been investigated.”

She added: “Their own status report is pointing in certain direction… There is reluctance. There is evidence available even today. If this is allowed, then some citizens will not be safe.”

The matter will now be heard on May 08.

Kismatun is represented by Advocates Vrinda Grover and Soutik Banerjee.


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