A test of governance: On Delhi violence

Communal violence in parts of Delhi, an earshot away from the nerve centre of the government of India, has claimed 13 lives and left over 150 injured. Mobs of pro-CAA demonstrators and anti-CAA protesters wielding sticks and weapons have taken over parts of the city and the Delhi police have proved themselves woefully inadequate at best and outrageously partisan and communal at worst, in responding to the situation. There was nothing abrupt or unexpected about the violence that erupted in the city’s north-eastern parts on Monday. This has been in the making for weeks. There was arson and violence on December 16, in areas around the Jamia Milia Islamia, to which the police responded by indiscriminately unleashing violence on students inside the university. A group of masked rioters went from room to room in student hostels in JNU on January 5 and the police stood passively. Rioters clearly identified through pictures have not been arrested yet. The Delhi police did nothing when a gunman opened fire at anti-CAA protesters on January 30. This smouldering situation turned into conflagration by Sunday evening as mobs formed on communal lines prepared to take on each other. Both sides complain that calls were made to the police since Sunday but there was no effective intervention. As chaos and arson spread through Monday, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla inexplicably characterised the situation as “fully under control”.

Read: Delhi violence live updates: Shoot at sight orders issued in northeast Delhi

The inaction and inefficiency of the Delhi police is linked to varying grades of incitement and silent consent to communal mobilisation by the BJP that is in power at the Centre. Policing and law and order in Delhi are the responsibility of the Union Home Ministry. Speeches of Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the recent Assembly election campaign in Delhi were clearly meant to encourage communal polarisation. Lower rung leaders acted on cue and turned Delhi into a communal cauldron over recent months. Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy’s statement that the Delhi violence is a “conspiracy to shame India globally” during U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit is beside the point. The unfailing efficiency claimed by those who control the Central and State governments in Delhi will be proven shallow if they cannot enforce elementary law and order right under their nose. Communal violence any time, anywhere happens only due to the inefficiency or collusion or both of those in power. The Prime Minister and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal must prove their efficiency and administrative skills by clamping down on violence, whatever it takes.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 8:17:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/a-test-of-governance-on-delhi-violence/article30915943.ece

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