By Shiv Sunny

Fifty two-year-old Mohammad Vakeel was at his general store in north-east Delhi’s Shiv Vihar when a mob allegedly hurled acid at him during the February 2020 riots, leaving him blind and with a damaged face within seconds. More than a 1,000 days later, the police last week registered a first information report (FIR) in the alleged attack following a court order.

The FIR was filed on Sunday under sections pertaining to rioting, causing grievous hurt by acid, and causing mischief by fire, among others, of the Indian Penal Code at Karawal Nagar police station.

Prior to this, the police had clubbed a complaint into the matter, filed by Vakeel’s wife Mumtaz Begum, with another FIR related to burning of a car in the same neighbourhood during the riots.

However, the Karkardooma court noted on March 21 this year that both were different crimes which occurred at separate locations, and possibly separate timings.

“Despite all efforts, the police did not record my statement or the statements of my wife and daughter till today,” Vakeel has said in the FIR.

Because the police clubbed two very different cases, his lawyer Saleem Malik said that “there was just no investigation” into the alleged attack.

Joy Tirkey, deputy commissioner of police (north-east), said, “We have registered the FIR on the court’s directions. It will be investigated on its merit and without bias”.

Besides running to courts, Vakeel’s last three years were spent in making multiple visits to an eye hospital in Chennai where, after nearly two years of complete blindness, he got a lens which gives him hazy vision in his right eye.

Vakeel lived with his wife and five children in a two-storey house constructed over a 25 square yard plot in Shiv Vihar — one of the worst-hit neighbourhoods in the riots which broke out after a clash between groups supporting and opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act in Jafrabad. The violence spread to several localities in the district, in which at least 53 people were killed and 400 injured…

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