Citizens Committee Report Blames Centre, Media For Delhi Riots 2020

The report named many ‘Hindu Nationalist Figures like Yati Narsinghanand and Ragini Tiwari, as well as BJP political leaders such as Kapil Mishra spread hate messaging

New Delhi: The sparse response of the Election Commission, Media bodies, and Delhi Police resulted in a violative situation that led to the anti-Muslim riots in Delhi in February 2020, a report has concluded.

“There were significant warning signs of impending violence – the shooting attempts on anti-CAA protesters – that went unheeded,” the report ‘Uncertain Justice: A Citizens Committee Report on the North East Delhi Violence 2020’ said.

In October 2020, the Citizens Committee was formed. The committee included Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice AP Shah, who is also the former chief justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice RS Sodhi, Justice Anjana Prakash and former Union home secretary GK Pillai.

Meeran Chadha Borwankar a retired IPS who was the former director general of the Bureau of Police Research and Development was also part of the committee. She withdrew from the committee in the final stage.

The committee found out that in Delhi Riots the response of the Union Home Ministry was inadequate and was elaborating on the role of media houses & social media in propagating hate against Muslims during the riots in Delhi.

2020 Delhi Riots:

The entire district of Northeast Delhi was witnessing riots from February 23rd to February 29th. 53 people were killed and most of them were Muslims. Many properties were set ablaze and people were assaulted too.

The report named many ‘Hindu Nationalist Figures like Yati Narsinghanand and Ragini Tiwari, as well as BJP political leaders such as Kapil Mishra who” further spread hate messaging among their thousands of followers through social media platforms from December 2019.”

BJP Leader Kapil Mishra raised ‘goli maro’ slogans, and threatened Muslims. Another BJP Leader Anurag Thakur, at an election rally in January 2020, raised the slogan ‘desh ke gadaar ko’ to which the crowd replied ‘goli maaro.’

Soon after this, two incidents of shooting at anti-CAA protest sites near Delhi’s Jamia Nagar were reported.

The report also stated that some TV Channels framed the events around CAA as Hindus versus Muslims, with prejudice and suspicion against the Muslim community.”

“These channels concentrated on vilifying anti-CAA protests, fanning unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, and calling for their forcible shutdown,” the report said.

Role OF TV In Spreading Hate:

The report examined Republic and Times Now (in English), Aaj Tak, Zee News, India TV, and Republic Bharat (in Hindi), and used this information to draw conclusions on how news outlets encouraged anti-Muslim sentiment that ultimately resulted in the deadly riots in February 2020.

Six channels tried projecting the anti-CAA protests as singularly disruptive and violent, the report stated.

The report read, “The coverage appeared to portray the protests as single-handedly responsible for the unfolding violence. The entire protest movement in Delhi, with a concerted focus on Shaheen Bagh, was shown as violent, conspiratorial, and communal.”

Shaheen Bagh became a hot spot for sit-in protests after women of the nearby Muslim locality protested there peacefully, demanding a rollback of CAA. “Various essential elements of the anti-CAA protests, including their substantive demands and peaceful sit-ins, were left out of the narrative, as was any comment on police violence,” the report said.

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The report also stated that the language used by these six news channels in their prime-time shows showcased “Delhi’s Muslims” as a “catch-all category for a potentially dangerous community with designs of war against the Indian state.”

It said the “very irresponsible” and “open charges of criminality” made by TV news stations against anti-CAA protesters. The survey stated that the adversarial messaging and sensationalist style of these shows is evident in the language of the anchors and panelists as well as the phrasing of the visual aids.

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