Delhi Police Makes Headway in Delhi Riots. Chargesheets 20 Members of “Kattar Hindu” WhatsApp Group

Social Commentary

Delhi Police Makes Headway in Delhi Riots. Chargesheets 20 Members of “Kattar Hindu” WhatsApp Group

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

It’s been four months since a riot in Delhi claimed 53 lives, and left 200 residents injured, in what’s been called the worst communal flare up in the national capital since the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom. On Thursday, June 4, the Delhi police, as part of its ongoing investigations into the riots, filed two more chargesheets.

This time, the accused are 20 members of a WhatsApp group called “Kattar Hindu”, in which they had discussed “taking revenge from Muslims”. They have been charged for the murder two Muslim brothers, Hashim Ali and Amir Ali.

The two brothers were on their way home on a bike on February 26 when they were stopped by a mob, beaten, stripped naked and thrashed. Their bodies were disposed of in a drain by the mob. An eyewitness alerted the police, who stopped two suspicious men riding on a bike in the area the next day and discovered the WhatsApp group.

While the 20 men named in the chargesheet, who all live in Northeast Delhi, have been booked for murder, which carries a hefty sentence, reports noted that charges related to conspiracy to start a riot, or promoting enmity between different groups — which several Muslim activists have been booked under — were left out.

A source in the Delhi police told ThePrint that the WhatsApp group had over 125 members, spread across Delhi, and that it was created on February 24, a day and a half before the murders. Some spoke about retaliating against Muslims who had attacked their property, while others urged members to source lathis, rods and other weapons.

One, the police said, confessed to killing a Muslim man on the WhatsApp group, even as a few urged members to not resort to any violence.

In another chargesheet, meanwhile, filed against suspended AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, the police have said that the conspiracy to start the riot dated back to January 8, and that Hussain had led the mob that killed Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma.

Back in January, the chargesheet says, Hussain met with JNU student Umar Khalid and asked him to be “prepared for something big” during Donald Trump’s visit to India. Some observers, including Swaraj India leader, Yogendra Yadav, called this charge “ridiculous”.

As the police gets closer to completing its investigation into the riot, the latest chargesheets are now bound to be met with the same reaction as the previous few — an endless debate on both TV channels and social media.