Brick-bats are seen amid vandalised properties in Bhagirathi Vihar area of the riot-affected north east Delhi, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.
Brick-bats are seen amid vandalised properties in Bhagirathi Vihar area of the riot-affected north east Delhi, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.
Photo: PTI

There have been allegations and counter-allegations when it comes to the Delhi Riots of 2020. Several days of violent clashes had led to the deaths of 53 people and hundreds of others had been injured. On Saturday, the debate and discussion over the riots came back under the spotlight as Bloomsbury India withdrew publication of a book on the same, even as a launch event was being held.

According to its Amazon listing (it is unavailable at present) Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story "provides an explosive revelation of the plot behind the riots, how they were planned and executed, how weapons were procured and stockpiled, and exactly what happened".

But what happened in the Delhi riots? And what has been the repercussions since then?

Here are 10 important things that you need to know about the issue:

1. The riots took place from February 23, against the backdrop of Citizenship Amendment Act Protests. A day before the clashes began, around 1,000 people had been holding a sit-in protest near the Jaffrabad metro station. The protest which blocked part of the road was reportedly in solidarity with a Bharat Bandh that the Bhim Army had called for on February 23.

2. The violence in Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Babarpur, Chand Bagh, Shiv Vihar, Bhajan Pura, Yamuna Vihar areas of northeast Delhi had claimed 53 lives and left over 200 injured. A large number of properties had been damaged as frenzied mobs torched houses, shops, vehicles, a petrol pump and pelted stones at locals and police personnel.

3. The riots took place even as US President Donald Trump visited India and even travelled to Delhi. Some claim that the timing was not a coincidence.

4. The Delhi Police had registered more than 600 cases in the wake of the riots, with a couple thousand people being detained or arrested in connection with the same over the months. Several of these cases had been related to Arms Act.

5. Several people, including students have been booked in the aftermath of the riots. This included JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, Jamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar and Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid. They have all been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

6. The police have been criticised for their handling of the investigation in various quarters, including by student activists, filmmakers and civil society groups, who have accused the force of carrying out a "witchhunt" at a time when the country is battling the coronavirus pandemic. Others however have countered this criticism stating that the accusations against the police could be "motivated".

7. There have been political connotations too. Some have blamed BJP leaders such as Kapil Mishra allegedly for making inflammatory speeches targeting anti-citizenship law protesters before the violence broke out in Northeast Delhi on February 23.

8. Others contend that Opposition leaders from the Congress and AAP and so on were responsible. Suspended Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain was earlier booked by the police in the murder case of IB staffer Ankit Sharma in northeast Delhi amid the violence.

9. In March, the Enforcement Directorate booked Hussain, Islamist group PFI and some others on the charges of money laundering and alleged funding of the communal riots in northeast Delhi.

10. More recently, the Shaheen Bagh protests have become a topic of conversation after one of the activists joined the BJP. Soon after, several members of the minority Muslim community from Shaheen Bagh area joined the party, prompting AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj to claim that the entire Shaheen Bagh protest was "scripted by the BJP". This in turn prompted the BJP to say that the ruling party in Delhi was "shocked" with the prospect of "losing" support among the Muslims.

(With inputs from agencies)

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