Delhi violence | Amit Shah ducks MPs’ queries on police brutality

Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the Parliament session in New Delhi on March 13, 2020.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the Parliament session in New Delhi on March 13, 2020.

While Union Home Minister Amit Shah has furnished extensive data on FIRs and arrests made in connection with the February riots in Delhi in discussions in both Houses of Parliament, he did not answer several key questions raised by the MPs.

During a short-duration discussion on Thursday, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal asked Mr. Shah about a video circulating on social media showing policemen destroying CCTV cameras in parts of riot-hit northeast Delhi. Mr. Sibal mentioned another video showing policemen hitting an injured person with sticks and forcing him to sing the national anthem. The injured person was later reported to have died.

Also read: Delhi violence | 2 brothers held for killing 85-year-old woman by setting her house on fire

Asaduddin Owaisi, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP, raised the video of police brutality in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Mr. Shah skirted the question in his reply. “Some members here mentioned that the Delhi police failed, they failed to provide information in time… Accuse me all you want but not the police,” he said. “I analysed the situation, the police acted swiftly. The riots did not spread and that success is of Delhi police… this is essential for the morale of the police.”

Planned or spontaneous

Mr. Sibal pointed to the contradiction between a February 25 statement issued by the Press Information Bureau that the riots were “spontaneous” and Mr. Shah’s speech in the Lok Sabha on March 11 that it was a pre-planned conspiracy.

Also read:Delhi violence: Man arrested for hatching conspiracy to incite communal riots

Prasanna Acharya of the Biju Janta Dal also asked that if it was a conspiracy, “Is it not a failure on the part of the government that it did not get a hint of it? Why did it not take preventive measures then?”

Again the Minister did not specifically clarify the contradiction, but said in the Rajya Sabha that various agencies had received information before February 24 that money was being routed through foreign sources and was distributed in Delhi to foment trouble.

“But investigations were at a preliminary stage and the riots happened; five people were arrested for hawala transactions,” Mr. Shah said.

He said the government had received information about the protests on February 23, but information on what could truly be described as communal riots came only on February 24 and the riots were controlled within 36 hours. He said 80 additional companies of the Central Reserve Police Force were provided to the Delhi Police daily from February 22 to 26.

Javed Ali Khan of the Samajwadi Party asked what action had been taken on a letter written by Shiromani Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral to the Delhi Police Commissioner on February 27 where the latter alleged that his phone calls were not attended and the police did not help those stuck in the riots.

In the letter, Mr. Gujral had mentioned how his calls to rescue 16 individuals who were trapped in Maujpur received no assistance from the police. Mr. Shah’s replies in Parliament did not touch this issue.

Tiruchi Siva of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam asked why no action was taken against hate speeches with slogans such as “ goli maaro ” that became the source of the carnage and why were ambulances not allowed to move on the night of riots.

Also read: Delhi violence: 654 cases registered, 1820 people detained or arrested

Sonia reference

Mr. Shah said hate speeches started after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was passed on December 11. He said the impact of hate speeches was seen on February 15 when protesters sat at Shaheen Bagh, a day after a speech by a political person at Ramlila Maidan asking for decisive action. Mr. Shah was referring to a speech by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, though he he did not name her.

He blamed a February 17 speech by a young leader in Maharashtra asking people to take to the streets in large numbers when U.S. President Donald Trump was in India. Following this, protests were organised at seven or eight places in northeast Delhi that later turned into communal riots, he said.

Mr. Shah remained silent on speeches made by BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Anurag Thakur.

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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 6:57:30 pm |