Read them the riot act: On police inaction during Delhi violence

Those responsible for dereliction of duty in the Delhi Police should face action

March 06, 2020 12:05 am | Updated 12:19 am IST

As smoke thins out and facts emerge, the role of the Delhi Police during the communal violence that gripped the north-eastern parts of the city from February 24 to 26 turns out to be disturbing and chilling. The circumstances and origins of the violence are important, but what is of utmost urgency for the rule of law is the behaviour of the police and other arms of the state. The catalogue of infractions by the Delhi Police, unearthed by media platforms and civil society groups, is long and detailed. In one case, Faizan, a 23-year-old Muslim man, was seen in a video being beaten by the police who were forcing him to sing the national anthem. Illegally detained for over 36 hours, denied medical attention and released with his body turned blue, according to his mother, Faizan died. It took the intervention of the Delhi High Court for the police to give protection to victims as they were transported from an inadequate facility to a government hospital. Videos of personnel in uniform actively participating in violence, and smashing CCTV cameras installed by the Delhi government, have emerged. All these incidents require detailed investigation.

The Delhi Police also came under attack by mobs; one of their men was lost , and several were injured. But that is no reason to excuse their failure to ensure public order in a riot situation. Even after the global spotlight on their blatant partisanship during the days of the ugly violence, the Delhi Police have chosen to brazen it out. Not only have FIRs not been filed against four BJP leaders who were clearly instigating violence, there were more mobs roaming the heart of the capital city, unchallenged by the police in the days following the riots. Meanwhile, the police sought action against social activist Harsh Mander , whose speech on peaceful protest and communal harmony was presented to the Supreme Court as incitement to violence. Far from taking the officials to task and pinpointing individual accountability, the Central and Delhi governments have either remained quiet or come out in support of them. The responses of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to the violence emboldened the mob and condoned police partisanship. Had there been timely and impartial assertion of political or judicial authority over the police as they drifted from one excess to the more egregious next over the last three months, Delhi would not have fallen into this furnace. There can be no further loss of time in acting against the perpetrators of violence and those who miserably failed in their duty. India needs an assurance that its security forces will uphold the rule of law at all costs, and not allow themselves to be manipulated by those aligned with the ruling establishment.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.