Delhi violence

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The violence in Delhi is causing ripples in the parliament as members of the government and the opposition engaged in scuffles on Monday, demanded resignation of the Prime Minister and the home minister and caused a series of adjournments. Speaker Om Birla’s decision on Tuesday to push a discussion on the Delhi violence after Holi, which is on March 10, enraged the members, who threw leaflets and paper balls at the chair. The opposition has been demanding a discussion on the violence — which claimed 48 lives since last week. The resulting protests and chaos has ensured repeated adjournments, allowing little time for any other business since parliament reconvened on Monday for the second half of the budget session. The Speaker has been insisting on allowing more time before such a discussion is held, saying the current situation is “not appropriate.” Here it can be said that the Delhi violence was a reflection of the failure of the state and the central governments in maintaining the rule of law. The ability of the central government to gear up the law and order machinery and beef up security did not transcended the four walls of the rooms where a slew of meetings were chaired by union home minister Amit Shah. The Delhi government, though not directly in-charge of law and order, failed to send its men and machinery into the affected areas of north-east Delhi and other parts of the State to make strong appeals for calm and instill confidence among the public. It cannot abdicate its responsibility simply by the logic that it has no control over the law and order machinery. There was a clear abdication of responsibility by everybody. The major blame, however, is on the BJP government at the Centre, not only by virtue of its absolute control over the police, whose biased actions are appalling, to say the least, but also in view of the fact that the fire was stoked by BJP leader Kapil Mishra who recently lost the Delhi elections. Shocking details have emerged in sections of media about how fanatic mobs, inspired by Hindu right wing ideology, were moving around and checking the identities of passersby, of vandalizing religious places in the backdrop of cheering crowds. Even journalists doing their jobs were not spared and could manage to get away only because they could ascertain their Hindu identity. At the same time, Prime minister Narendra Modi’s appeal for maintaining peace and harmony, five days after the capital city being caught up in communal frenzy and ugly violence, was too little and too late. It came only after scathing criticism of the government and police’s inaction by the opposition and the strictures passed by the Delhi high court, whose judge was interestingly posted out soon after the hearing, also after the image of the country had been badly maligned internationally. Modi, whose political fortunes were built by stoking communal violence and whose government appears to have consistently adopted a policy that excluded minorities, particularly Muslims, broke his silence but his lukewarm words remain meaningless and did not compensate for the damage that had been done by his government. The present situation is not accidental and was in the making ever since Modi government brought in the Citizenship Amendment Bill and National Population Register coupled with union home minister, Amit Shah warning of a nationwide National Register of Citizenship. Together, the CAA, NPR and NRC seek to create a template for Indian citizenship that is not based on equality. While the BJP government twiddled thumbs as university campuses were set on fire, in the run up to the Delhi elections, many BJP functionaries including the union home minister took to inflammatory and hate speeches. There is a systemic build up by incitement to mobs leading to the present situation. Modi has taken no ownership of the genesis of the flames that his government and party men have been responsible for. Far from acknowledging the wrongs, his government functionaries are either cocooned into silence or are inventing conspiracy theory. The government needs to step in responsibly and efficiently as a perception is being created that at least a section of the government is acting as an agent provocateur.