A lot has happened in Delhi ever since the Coronavirus Pandemic hit India and the lockdown was announced last month by the Modi government- first, the National Capital was struck by a massive migrant crisis even as an inefficient Delhi government failed to allay the concerns of the migrant labourers who set out towards their homes in Uttar Pradesh and other states.
Days later, the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco came out before the public even as the entire nation prepared to brace the impact of a religious gathering at the Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid in the Nizamuddin area of South Delhi- the global centre for Tablighi Network, which was attended by as many as 8,000 preachers.
But then, of course, there was the threat of Shaheen Bagh agitation going rogue in between the Coronavirus outbreak. What everyone glossed over was the deadly riots in Northeast Delhi less than two months ago, which had left 50 people dead, and had also landed a bullet in Delhi Police Constable Ratan Lal’s chest, apart from causing multiple stabs in IB staffer’s Ankit Sharma’s body.
Amidst all this commotion and strict guidelines to maintain social distancing, one of the departments that started working from home is the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police, as some teams of the department established camp offices at their homes. The fallout was a slowdown in arrests related to the Northeast Delhi riots that shocked the National Capital in late February, as the teams were not able to visit the riot-hit areas, that is, Northeast Delhi.
However, the Union Home Ministry headed by Amit Shah intervened just at the right time to ensure that the proceedings and arrests into the riots were expedited. A source said, “Things started to change two weeks ago itself. At that time, a meeting was called by the senior officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs to discuss the Delhi Police’s strategy for the Coronavirus lockdown. The officials were also asked about the progress made in Delhi riots investigation. And the Delhi Police Commissioner SN Srivastava had spoken about the bottlenecks created by the lockdown. At that time itself, the Union Home Ministry made it clear that no matter what, the police should continue arrests (connected to the Delhi riots).”
The investigation teams were also directed to continue with their probe and arrests, and according to Jansatta, a total of 802 arrests were already made by the time it started preparing the report published this Monday. Out of these, the Crime Branch has arrested 182 people, of whom 50 were arrested during the ongoing lockdown, in connection with 42 deaths during the riots, while the Northeast Delhi Police has arrested 620 people.
The police are proceeding very cautiously taking all necessary precautions while making these arrests. An official said, “They (the investigation teams) are asked to carry a temperature measuring gun at all times. After identifying the suspects, the team provides them with masks and sanitizers. A screening test of the accused is also carried out. before taking them to the magistrate.”
Recently, the Crime Branch also made a couple of arrests from the Sambhal district in Uttar Pradesh in connection with the brutal murder of the IB staffer Ankit Sharma.
The anti-CAA rioters would have been relishing the thought of escaping the rigours of the law in the backdrop of the ongoing lockdown, given that the Delhi Police had to take up other matters- enforcing social distancing, tackling the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco, proceeding against the glaring illegalities in the construction of the Nizamuddin Markaz and also going after the absconding Maulana Saad.
But Amit Shah was watching over the progress into the Delhi riots investigations constantly. He made up his mind not to let the rioters go scot-free, and now it seems that despite the Coronavirus outbreak and the 21-day lockdown, the Delhi Police is really going for the jugular.