A pogrom is distinct from a general sectarian riot because it involves the targeting of a particular minority group and a certain degree of complicity of the state. The culmination of the period of unrest during the anti-CAA protests was a brutal pogrom that started in Northeast Delhi on February 23, 2020. An analysis of the data on death toll reveals that there is a clear religious disparity in the people who died in the pogrom. Nearly 51 people lost their lives, out of which only 13 were Hindu and 38 were Muslim.
The events were set in motion when Kapil Mishra, a BJP leader who had just lost his seat from Model Town in Delhi assembly elections, sparked the violence by inciting a Hindu mob to violently remove a group of Muslims who were blocking a road in north-east Delhi in protest against the CAA. Addressing the peaceful protest, Mishra issued inflammatory remarks to attack Muslims which resulted in a massive eruption of violence, and arson. The pogrom spanned over four days with the Delhi police seen complicit in the violence witnessed. During the pogrom, Muslim-owned businesses and property were set ablaze, their shops were demolished and many Muslims were killed while others were beaten up by Hindu mobs.
The fact finding reports submitted by the Delhi Police to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) termed anti-CAA protestors as ‘antiHindu’ and ‘Left-jihadi’ elements who were conspiring to create unrest and resentment. The police displayed gross negligence in putting a halt to the violence. Let alone controlling the violence, the police allowed CAA supporters to hold a counter protest very close to the anti-CAA protest site and overlooked Kapil Mishra’s inflammatory speech. There are numerous accounts of people calling the Police for help when goons were trying to break into their houses or beat their family members, but the police remained a silent onlooker to the pogrom. Additionally, the violence could have been avoided or controlled if the Rapid Action Force was deployed when violence broke.
Now, about 7 months after the pogrom started, the Muslims of Seelampur, Jaffrabad and other localities in Delhi are still reeling with the shocks of the dark days in February.