Tahir Hussain, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) municipal councillor, arrested for the murder of Intelligence Bureau (IB) staffer Ankit Sharma, had led the mob atop his building and provoked them in the name of religion to kill Hindus and ‘kafirs’, says the chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police, citing witness statements.
Sharma went missing on the evening of 25 February in the middle of the three-day communal riots that broke out in the capital city. His heavily mutilated body was fished out the next day from a clogged drain in Chand Bagh, which is some 50 metres from Hussain’s building.
Sharma’s house is less than a hundred metres from Hussain’s building in the same Khajuri Khas residential area located in Karawal Nagar in northeast Delhi. Chand Bagh is Muslim-dominated area while Khajuri Khas is Hindu-dominated.
The chargesheet says that on the evening of 25 February, Sharma was standing with “the Hindu crowd” a little away from Hussain’s building when about 20-25 rioters, armed with lathis and knives, dragged Sharma to the Chand Bagh Pulia. The mob killed him and threw his body into the drain at 5.39 pm the same day.
Hussain was named as a suspect by Sharma’s father Ravinder in his statement to the police on 26 February after the body was discovered. The statement, recorded in FIR number 65/2020 at Dayalpur Police Station, said that goons gathered by Tahir Hussain in his building had been attacking people in the area, and when Ravinder went around inquiring about his son, locals told him that a man is believed to have been thrown from a mosque in Chand Bagh into a drain in that area.
The chargesheet, submitted in the court earlier this month, says, “The witnesses have categorically stated in their statements that Tahir Hussain was present on the spot on 25.02.2020 and he was leading the mob present at Chand Bagh Pulia and was kept on moving from Chand Bagh Pulia to his house. Some witnesses have also stated that Tahir Hussain was also present at his house from where the mob was pelting stones, bricks and petrol bombs on the Hindus preventing them to move forward. The witnesses have stated that Tahir Hussain was provoking and instigating the mob against the Hindus/kafirs to kill them.”
It also says that Hussain “provoked and instigated the Muslims against Hindus saying that Hindu people had killed a number of Muslims and set fire to their shops at Sherpur Chowk. On his provocation/instigation, the Muslims turned violent and volatile on February 24 and 25 and started burning the shops and pelting stones and petrol bombs on Hindus (sic) people and also targeted their houses.”
Police have charged a total of 10 people — all Muslims — including Hussain with murder, rioting and creating enmity between religions, among other offences. They are: Anas, 23, fruit vendor; Firoz, 22, tea vendor, Javed, 30, fruit vendor; Gulaami ,45, fish seller; Shoaib Alam, 32, King Muslim dhaba owner; Haseen, 20, vegetable seller; Tahir Hussain, 42, municipal councillor and businessman; Nazim, 38, meat shop; Kasim, 26, meat shop; and Sameer Khan, 25, vegetable seller.
Testimonies of more than 70 witnesses have been included in the document.
Police have identified 20-year-old Haseen alias Salman, a resident of Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh district, as a key accused. The cops first arrested Haseen in March based on a phone call they had intercepted. In the alleged phone call made by Haseen to his friends and sister-in-law, he spoke about the murder of a person and disposing of his body in a drain.
Police say that the details of Haseen’s mobile number show his location on 25 February between 5 pm and 6.30 pm as Chand Bagh Pulia.
The chargesheet says that during interrogation, Haseen told the police that on 25 February, he heard about a Hindu killing a four-year-old Muslim boy and, in rage, he picked up a knife and went to the Chand Bagh Pulia. There, along with his accomplices, he killed Sharma with the knife and danda and threw his body into the drain.
However, the police say they are still waiting for the forensic report on whether the weapon and clothes they have recovered from Haseen match the blood samples from Sharma’s body.
The chargesheet says that Sharma’s postmortem reveals a total of 51 injuries caused by sharp-edged and blunt objects. Haseen was among those who repeatedly stabbed him.
The police have also identified Haseen as the man in the red shirt seen in the viral video that showed three people dumping a body in Chand Bagh drain. Police say it is the lone footage of the crime they have been able to find. The forensic report of this video, too, is awaited.
The chargesheet says that the police could not recover any other footage of the crime as rioters had either burnt the CCTV cameras installed at shops or turned them around.
Here’s a list of evidence that the police have cited regarding Hussain:
- Police say that Hussain, who had deposited his licensed pistol with 100 rounds in the Khajuri Khas police station in January, got it released only on 22 February – that is, just before the riots broke out. The chargesheet says that during investigation, Hussain failed to give a satisfactory reply to the police regarding the release of his weapon. The chargesheet says, “Only 64 live cartridges and 22 empty cartridges were recovered at his instance. During interrogation, he could not give account of the remaining 14 live cartridges and 22 empty/fired cartridges, when and where the same were fired/used.”
- Police have accused Hussain of a deeper conspiracy. The chargesheet says that Hussain was in touch with Khalid Saifi of ‘United Against Hate’ group as well as Umar Khalid and, in a meeting with Khalid on 8 January, they decided to have a “big blast so that the central government could be shaken on the issue of CAA/NRC and so as to defame the country in the international arena”.
- Police found that on the intervening night of 24 and 25 February, Hussain had shifted his family to his parental house in Mustafabad citing safety, but continued to stay at his building “so that he could keep an eye on the whole situation and stand with the Muslims against the Hindus on the next day as per plan and criminal conspiracy”.
- The chargesheet says that during the riots, local police found that no damage had been done to Hussain’s house. It also records six Police Control Room calls made by Hussain on 24 February between 2.50 pm and 6 pm, and six PCR calls made on 25 February between 3.50 pm and 4.35 pm. “From the circumstances, it seemed that the accused persons/rioters were known to Tahir Hussain and Tahir was present with the rioters at his house and he had deliberately made PCR calls to save his skin from legal complications in future,” the chargesheet says.
- The chargesheet also says that when the police checked the CCTV footage from Hussain’s building, it found no recording or footage available after January. Police say that “it points to his involvement in hatching the conspiracy of a large scale riots in collusion with other accused persons”.
At least 53 people were killed and more than 400 injured in the communal violence that began as clashes between those protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by blocking roads and those who wanted the roads opened for traffic.
Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!