Human Rights Group: Delhi Police Violated Human Rights

Human Rights Group: Delhi Police Violated Human Rights

NEW DELHI — Indian authorities are not investigating the “grave human rights violations” allegedly committed by the police during February riots in New Delhi, human rights group Amnesty International India claimed.

“Delhi police personnel were complicit and an active participant in the violence,” Amnesty said in an investigative briefing released Aug. 28.

The organization’s investigation is based on conversations with 50 riots survivors, eyewitnesses, lawyers, doctors, human rights activists and retired police officers, as well as several videos of the violence.

The Delhi police force has denied any wrongdoing and did not respond to a Zenger News request for comment about the Amnesty report.

President Donald Trump was in New Delhi as part of his first state visit to India when violence roiled the northeastern parts of India’s capital, in which 53 people — mostly Muslim, India’s largest religious minority — were killed.

A parking lot in Northeast Delhi which was burnt down during the riots. An intelligence bureau staffer Ankit Sharma was killed near this parking lot on March 16, 2020. (Courtesy: Sadiq Naqvi)

Amnesty’s report documents a timeline of alleged violations by Delhi police, starting from the pan-Indian protests against a new citizenship law in late December 2019. It claims to have found a “disturbing pattern of grave human rights violations committed by the Delhi police during the riots.”

“Six months on, there has not been even a single investigation into the role of the Delhi police,” said Avinash Kumar, executive director of Amnesty International India.

During the six days of rioting, a video surfaced of police personnel kicking five men and forcing them to sing India’s national anthem. One of them, known as Faizan, later died of his injuries.

Amnesty said the video was among those analyzed by its crisis evidence laboratory, and the team interviewed Faizan’s mother. After the incident, Faizan was detained by the police for close to 36 hours without any charge. He was handed over to his mother at 1 a.m. on Feb. 26 after his condition had deteriorated.

Mohammad Rafiq, a 27-year-old tailor, was also among the five men who can be seen being assaulted in the video.

Mohammad Rafiq shows his injuries on March 14, 2020. (Courtesy: Sadiq Naqvi)

He said the group was kept in police lockup until late on the night of Feb. 25. Rafiq had been picked up by the police when he had stepped out to look for his mother on Feb. 24.

“The policemen first dragged me to the government-run clinic in the area and beat me up,” he said. “Four people were already lying on the ground there. I lost all hope and thought, ‘I won’t survive this.’”

The police took them to the local hospital for first aid and then moved them to the lockup at the police station.

“We asked them to release us,” Rafiq said. “But they said the situation outside the police station was bad.”

“The ruthless treatment of the heavily injured men by the Delhi police officers violates the international human rights standard,” Amnesty said in its statement.

The police force has said previously its investigations were fair.

“Delhi police would like to assure you that it is has the capability and the resolve to bring all those responsible for the riots to justice – and nothing bears out this intention more than the fact that over 750 cases have been registered and more than 1,500 persons have already been arrested in connection with the riots,” Eish Singhal, a Delhi police spokesperson, wrote in a statement on Aug. 7.

In another response on June 26, Singhal had written that more than 400 First Information Reports, or official written complaints, have been registered from the minority community.

“No discrimination has been made on grounds of community, caste or color,” he said.

Tall iron gates come up in neighborhoods of Northeast Delhi after the riots on March 13, 2020. (Courtesy: Sadiq Naqvi)

Violence in northeast Delhi followed two months of protests against the new citizenship law. The law, passed by the Indian parliament in December 2019, fast-tracks the citizenship process for non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In New Delhi, one such protest in the northeastern parts of the city had snowballed into riots.

Kapil Mishra, a local leader from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, had threatened to forcibly remove the protesters. Amnesty said the police did not act against Mishra, even when his speech was immediately followed by large-scale violence.

Delhi police and Mishra did not respond to the allegation. 

“Amnesty International is bereft of any credibility,” said Sudhanshu Mittal, a senior party leader.

“The leadership of Amnesty, the Aakar Patels and Ashwini Kumars have a long history of being anti-Modi,” he said, referring to the former and present chief.

Wall writing calls for a Hindu country in Northeast Delhi on March 14, 2020. (Courtesy: Sadiq Naqvi)

“Sometime back, media was full of stories about a senior police officer writing to his juniors about a large number of complaints received from Hindus alleging bias in the investigations by the police,” Mittal said. “How is it that Amnesty has not chosen to look into any complaint which the Hindus have made against the Delhi police?”

But victims of the violence agree with Amnesty’s report.

“Had the police acted properly we would not have faced this situation,” said Babu Khan, whose two sons, Amir Khan, 30, and Asim Ali, 19, were waylaid by a mob, killed and thrown into a drain on Feb. 26.

Babu Khan outside his residence in Mustafabad in Northeast Delhi on March 13, 2020. (Courtesy: Sadiq Naqvi)

Amnesty also claims the police selectively targeted anti-citizenship law protestors. A lawyer who is representing many accused of rioting said the situation was grim.

“Not only are victims being attacked, but also lawyers are being threatened and journalists are being assaulted,” said Mahmood Pracha, whom Delhi police have accused of forging documents and instigating a man to depose falsely.  

Delhi Police’s Special Cell, its anti-terror wing, is probing the riot. Under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967, police have arrested several students, activists and politicians who were protesting against the new law.

Amnesty has demanded a prompt investigation into all allegations of human rights violations by the police.

“This ongoing state-sponsored impunity sends the message that the law enforcement officials can commit grave human rights violations and evade accountability,” Amnesty’s Kumar said.

(Edited by Siddharthya Roy and Natalie Gross.)

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Donald Trump mocks Joe Biden, says former VP can’t find Minnesota as he tightens race to a coin-flip

Donald Trump mocks Joe Biden, says former VP can’t find Minnesota as he tightens race to a coin-flip

Donald Trump mocked rival Joe Biden in Minnesota on Monday, joking that the former vice president doesn’t know where the state is.

The president is trying to keep the state within his reach with Election Day less than three months away.

“I don’t know what Minnesota is. Where is that, please?” Trump said, lampooning the former vice president. He ridiculed Biden for sometimes mistaking what state or city he is in during campaign speeches.


Trump also branded Biden a “puppet of left-wing extremists.”

The president’s visit to Minnesota came on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. He spoke to a small crowd at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, then flew to Mankato for another campaign event.

Minnesota has long leaned to the political left. But an Emerson College poll released Tuesday showed Biden’s lead over Trump shrinking to just three percentage points, a number within the poll’s margin of error. Biden has 50% support statewide, compared to Trump’s 47%.

The poll surveyed 733 likely registered voters Aug. 8-10. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

Biden’s lead in that survey is smaller than in previous Minnesota surveys. A July 23-25 Trafalgar Group poll had him ahead by 5 points, with a 2.8 percentage point margin of error. A Fox News poll from July 18-20 had Biden up 13 points with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Minnesota has supported the Democratic presidential candidate for the past 11 elections. The last Republican to win there was Richard Nixon in 1972.

Democrats’ dominance was threatened in 2016 when Hillary Clinton beat Trump by just 1.5 percentage points. That was a narrowing of Barack Obama’s win in 2012 over Mitt Romney by more than five times that margin.

Trump traveled to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for another campaign event later in the day before heading back to the White House shortly after the Democratic National Convention keynote speeches begin, according to his daily schedule released by the White House.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former first lady Michelle Obama are some of the big names delivering speeches Monday. Obama pre-recorded her speech, an indication of the low-key nature of party conventions in the year of Covid-19.

(Edited by David Martosko.)

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Secret Service whisks Donald Trump out of White House briefing room after shots ring out nearby

Secret Service whisks Donald Trump out of White House briefing room after shots ring out nearby

A U.S. Secret Service officer pulled President Donald Trump out of a press briefing on Monday.

The officer stepped onto the speaking platform a few minutes after Trump began speaking, telling the president he should “step outside.”

The White House then went on “lockdown,” meaning no one was permitted to enter or exit the building. Reporters were locked in the briefing room.

Trump returned a few minutes later, saying Secret Service had taken him to the Oval Office following a shooting nearby.

“It was the suspect who was shot. This just took place,” he said, adding that an individual had been taken to a hospital.

“I can’t tell you the condition of the suspect,” he said. “There was nobody else injured. There was no other law enforcement injured.”

Trump said he did not know whether the wounded suspect was ever a threat to him, and credited a newly installed perimiter fence, higher than a previous one, for preventing intrusions.

Secret Service confirmed on Twitter about 40 minutes after the shots were heard that there was “an officer involved shooting” at the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, which is adjacent to the White House campus.

The crime scene at 17th & Pennsylvania outside the White House in Washington D.C. (Marcus DiPaola/Zenger News)

Trump praised the agents for doing a “fantastic job” and resumed briefing reporters for an additional 50 minutes.

“Are you rattled by this at all, Mr. President?” one asked.

“I don’t know. Do I seem rattled?” Trump said. “It’s unfortunate that this is a world— but the world’s always been a dangerous place. It’s not something that’s unique.”

(Edited by David Martosko.)

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VPN use expected to rise after Donald Trump threatens TikTok and WeChat

VPN use expected to rise after Donald Trump threatens TikTok and WeChat

The use of virtual private networks is projected to grow in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order effectively banning the Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat.

The federal government is reacting to reports that the apps harvest vast amounts of personal information from Americans’ mobile devices in the background while they run.

Network services known as VPNs allow users to mask their locations, permitting them to appear to be in other parts of the world. Customers are expected to use them more and more to circumvent any Internet firewalls preventing the use of TikTok, an app used to create short viral videos, and the messaging and payment app WeChat. VPN

“We expect to see an increase in our U.S. numbers in the days leading to the ban,” said George Onofrievici, a mobile app product manager at CyberGhost.

But the ability to get around the restrictions depends on the technical specifications of the ban, he said.

ExpressVPN saw an increase in traffic to its website in several countries after TikTok-related announcements.

Presidential Donald Trump, pictured on July 27, 2016, signed an executive order on Thursday banning the use of the popular mobile ph</one app TikTok in the United States (David Martosko/Zenger)

There was a 10% increase in web traffic to ExpressVPN’s website from the previous week after Trump announced a possible U.S. ban of TikTok on July 31, the company’s communications manager Fangying Ang said.

The company saw a 19% spike compared to the prior week when Japan announced a potential ban the week of July 28, she said. In Australia, which is also weighing a ban, early July saw a 41% increase.

ExpressVPN recorded a 22% increase in web traffic in India after the country banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, and a 10% bump in Hong Kong after TikTok ceased operating there the week of July 6, Ang said.

“We are seeing an increasing number of governments around the world attempting to control the information their citizens can access,” said Harold Li, vice president of ExpressVPN.

“For this reason, VPNs are used to access blocked sites and services by many worldwide,” Li said. “In the case of TikTok in the U.S., we don’t know how a potential ban may be enforced yet, and it may require users to jump through other hoops on top of using a VPN, such as removing their local SIM card.”

Trump issued two executive orders Thursday prohibiting transactions between people in the U.S. and TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. The same restrictions will apply to WeChat and its owner, Tencent Holdings. The orders take effect Sept. 20.

“Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users,” Trump’s order on WeChat said. “This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”

TikTok expressed shock over Trump’s order, saying it was issued “without any due process” and threatening legal action.

CyberGhost is among the companies that offer Virtual Private Networks, which allow Internet users to circumvent firewalls by appearing to be in other countries. This screen-grab was captured on August 7, 2020
ExpressVPN, like oher VPN carriers, is expecting business to be good when TikTok is banned. This screen-grab was captured on August 7, 2020

“We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request,” the company said in a statement Friday.

Trump’s order puts pressure on Microsoft to make a deal sooner rather than later to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations. The U.S. tech company said Sunday it was in talks to buy TikTok.

“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the president’s concerns. It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury,” Microsoft said in a statement.

Microsoft said it would complete any negotiations before Sept. 15., and would keep the president informed.

The U.S. Senate also unanimously passed a bill Thursday to ban TikTok on government-issued devices, weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar measure.

(Edited by Matt Rasnic and David Martosko.)

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