Court acquits four men for loot and arson at Muslim homes
File photo of the aftermath of riots in Delhi’s Mustafabad. (Express Photo by Amit Mehra)

By Anand Mohan J 

A local court has acquitted four men facing trial for loot and arson at Muslim houses during the Northeast Delhi riots in 2020 as it tore into police witnesses in the case calling their testimony “intensely doubtful”.

Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat acquitted the four men identified as Dinesh, Sahil, Sandeep and Tinku in a judgement passed on January 7.

“This court feels absolute loath to place any trust upon the testimony of PW­8 (Constable Vipin) & PW­12 (Head Constable Sanoj) on the aspect of identification of the accused as rioters,” Bhat said in his order.

The order said the manner in which the two police officers identified the rioters “creates doubt in the mind of Court.”

The two officers claimed all the four accused were known to them before the incident and hence they could identify them in the mob.

However, the court said, “Intriguingly they did not inform either their senior officers or the IO (Investigating Officer) of this case about the fact that they knew some of the rioters who were involved in the rioting incidents in Bhagirathi Vihar.”

The court said both these witnesses were posted at the Gokul Puri Police station and it was “not difficult for them to find out the officer to whom investigation of this case was entrusted and then to apprise the IO about the identity of the rioters”.

It also said they maintained an “eerie silence” when they recorded their statements under section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). It added these officers have not explained the reason which “precluded them from disclosing the names of the accused to the IO or to any senior officer till 22.03.2020.”

The court also noted that the initial investigating officer of the case could not trace any eyewitnesses in this case till March 21, 2020, and the new IO who took over recorded the statement of the two officers on March 22, 2020.

It said there was nothing in the IO’s testimony to show how he came to know that the two officers were eyewitnesses in this case and that these officers were dramatically introduced as eyewitnesses.

The court noted the two officers identified the accused on the basis of CCTV footage. However, the footage was not of the incident spot but of another place.

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