The 2020 Delhi riots, or North East Delhi riots, were multiple waves of bloodshed, property destruction, and rioting in North East Delhi, beginning on 23 February and chiefly caused by Hindu mobs attacking Muslims. Of the 53 people killed, two-thirds were Muslims who were shot, slashed with repeated blows or set on fire. The dead also included a policeman, an intelligence officer and over a dozen Hindus, who were shot or assaulted. More than a week after the violence had ended, hundreds of wounded were languishing in inadequately staffed medical facilities and corpses were being found in open drains. Many Muslims have remained missing.
Muslims were targeted for violence. In order to ascertain their religion, Muslim males, who unlike Hindus are commonly circumcised, were at times forced to remove their lower garments before being brutalised. Among the injuries recorded in one hospital were lacerated genitals. The properties destroyed were disproportionately Muslim-owned and included four mosques, which were set ablaze by rioters. As of 1 March, many Muslims had left these neighbourhoods. Even in areas of India’s capital untouched by the violence, some Muslims have left for their ancestral villages, unsure of their safety.
Protests began across India in December 2019 in response to the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which allows fast-tracked naturalisation for immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan belonging to six religions vis-à-vis Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Jainism and Buddhism. The Act has been seen as discriminatory to Muslims and threatening to their existence in India when combined with the anticipated National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Several anti-CAA protests were held in New Delhi. Some protesters burned vehicles and pelted stones at Security forces. In Shaheen Bagh, protesters blocked roads, which led to a traffic jam.
The Delhi Legislative Assembly election was held on 8 February 2020, in which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was defeated by the Aam Admi Party; widespread usage of incendiary slogans by BJP equating the protesters to anti-national elements and asking for them to be shot were noted. Delhi BJP chief, Manoj Tiwari has since attributed hate speeches by fellow party-candidate Kapil Mishra (who coined the slogans) as a cause of the BJP defeat.
On 22 February, around 500 to 1,000 protesters, including women, began a sit-in protest near the Jaffrabad metro station. The protest blocked a stretch of Seelampur–Jaffrabad–Maujpur road, as well as the entry and exit to the metro station. According to the protesters, the sit-in was in solidarity with the Bharat Bandh called by the Bhim Army, which was scheduled to begin on 23 February. Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed at the site.
The Delhi High Court on Friday, 27th March, 2020 directed the AAP government to ensure victims of the recent northeast Delhi riots, who may be homeless at the moment, are provided with food and accommodation either at the community centres or night shelters.
A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh, which conducted the proceedings through video-conferencing, also asked the government to ensure the provision of food, water and medical aid to such individuals.
“The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) shall furthermore, individually and jointly, ensure that sanitation, cleanliness and hygiene is properly and regularly maintained at the locations/centres/shelters, where the riot victims are to be housed,” the bench said, in its order.
The court passed the order while issuing notices to the Centre, represented by advocate Amit Mahajan, Delhi government, represented by counsel Rahul Mehra, and the EDMC, represented by lawyer Abhinav S Aggarwal.
The High Court also issued notice to the government on the petition which sought direction to authorities to reopen the relief camp at Idgah, Mustafabad and to provide proper food supplies, sanitation, cleaning of toilets, adequate water and security.
The plea also asked to provide the affected with doctors and medical care immediately. It also sought the authorities from preventing or interfering with the work of genuine NGOs and media persons providing assistance, apart from upgrading the security. The plea also sought direction to the authorities to publicly announce on television and in the newspapers that the Idgah camp is open and all those who want to seek refuge there are welcome to return.
The court had asked the police to ensure safe passage for fire tenders and ambulances to reach the spot.
It had said the police will ensure requisition of private ambulances and steps be taken in coordination with secretary (health) and fire services head and basic amenities including blankets, food, sanitation and clean drinking water shall be ensured in the shelter homes for victims displaced in the violence.
It had further asked the director of Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) to provide sufficient number of qualified professionals to cater to the victims suffering from post trauma stress.