Firoz Khan, who works as a driver in Delhi, was arrested during the lockdown on April 2 in connection to the riots that broke out in north-east Delhi in February this year. His wife Afsana (38) has visited the Mandoli jail twice since then but has not been able to meet him so far.
The police said the arrests were being made regularly despite the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A senior officer said over 800 arrests have been made so far. Advocates dealing with the riot cases said around 25 to 30 arrests have been made from the area since March 22.
Ms. Afsana from Mustafabad said she and her husband had gone to her mother’s residence in Noor-e-Ilahi while her sons — 16 and 14 — were at home. “The police entered our house and took one of my sons to Dayalpur police station, which I found out from my neighbours. I went to the police station with a few other women and the policemen said they would release my son only if my husband reached the police station,” she said. Firoz eventually arrived and that was the last time Ms. Afasana saw him.
‘No clothes to change’
She said: “He doesn’t even have clothes to change and in times like these, hygiene is of utmost importance. He is the only earning member of the family. I don’t even know what to do and who to ask for help. I can’t even go out. I have visited the Mandoli jail twice but they didn’t let me meet him. I haven’t even received a call from him.”
In a similar incident, Anas (20), a resident of Mustafabad, was arrested on April 7. His brother Israr said: “The policemen from Dayalpur called and said they just want to a few questions but when we went, there were other boys too. They took him into a room and that was the last we heard from him. The next day, he was produced before the court and my father saw him but we could not talk to him.” He added that the family is clueless in which jail he is lodged because of the lockdown.
A senior officer said the lockdown has not hampered the investigation. “The investigation in the cases is ongoing. There is a Standard Operating Procedure, which is being adhered to by officers during the lockdown,” he said.
Advocate Abdul Gaffar, along with his associates, who is representing many of those arrested in connection to the riots, said: “According to the information we have, around 25-30 arrests have been made from north-east Delhi ever since the lockdown started.”
Mr. Gaffar also said advocates who are dealing with the riot cases are facing issues because of lack of information. He said, “…an official enters the house, makes an arrest, and sometimes takes the accused straight to jail where a duty magistrate is already operating from nowadays. Advocates don’t even get to know if a person has been arrested and on what charges.” He added that often, they don’t get to know whether the person has only been detained for interrogation or has been formally arrested.