A government-appointed commission promoting the rights of India’s religious minorities said police failed to protect Muslims campaigning against a new citizenship law during violent riots in Delhi state this year.
At least 53 people, mostly Muslims, were killed and more than 200 were injured in the worst communal violence in the Indian capital since more than 3,000 people of the Sikh minority community were killed in 1984.
The Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) said on Thursday that Muslim homes, shops and vehicles were selectively targeted during days of rioting that coincided with US President Donald Trump’s trip to India.
The violence erupted in February after the leaders from the governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and their supporters attacked peaceful sit-ins in northeast Delhi organised against the new citizenship law.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed in December by the Indian Parliament fast-tracked the path to citizenship for religious minorities from neighbouring countries except for Muslims. Critics said the law was against the spirit of the country’s secular constitution.
In all, 11 mosques, five madrasas or religious schools, a Muslim shrine and a graveyard were attacked and damaged, a fact-finding team from the commission said in its report released on Thursday.
Recommendations made in the commission’s report to safeguard minority rights are not binding.
“Seemingly, to crush the protests, with support of the administration and police, a retaliatory plan of pro-CAA protesters was worked out to trigger violence at a large scale,” it said.
The commission said police had charged Muslims for the violence even though they were the worst victims.
Delhi police spokesman Anil Mittal rejected the allegation of bias and said police had acted fairly.
“We have filed 752 first information reports, over 200 chargesheets, arrested over 1,400 people in connection with the riots. We have also formed three special investigation teams and are still open to receiving complaints,” Mittal said.