From the Viewsroom

Give peace a chance

Preeti Mehra | Updated on March 02, 2020

The government must restore order in Delhi and punish perpetrators of violence

Even as dark, communal clouds rained death and destruction in northeast Delhi last week, the only silver lining that shone amidst the chaos was the brave efforts by the civil society and ordinary citizens to help the victims of the violence. That the police either turned a blind eye or even facilitated the perpetrators on a rampage has now been confirmed by several press reports as well as eyewitness accounts. At the last count, over 40 lives had been lost and over 200 were injured in the rioting, which began on February 23 and continued to spiral through US President Donald Trump’s two-day visit to India.

As parts of Delhi burned, it was left to its citizens to act. In Brijpuri, one of the affected areas, residents took out a peace march calling for Hindu-Muslim unity. Heartening reports also surfaced of Hindu neighbours sheltering or rescuing Muslim families from riotous mobs; or of human chains being formed to ensure the safe passage of children returning home after schools were suddenly shut amidst growing communal tension over the CAA. In a welcome move, gurudwaras across Delhi were directed by the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Harpreet Singh, to help victims of the violence “irrespective of their religion”.

A citizens’ support group has also been set up by rights activist Harsh Mander, among others, to assist victims. Helplines for information and support requests have been activated. Several doctors, lawyers, social workers and journalists have been identified as part of the volunteer team that will provide information, organise ambulances, medical aid, relief rations and places to stay for those uprooted by the violence. That civil society had to come forward speaks volumes for the inaction of the authorities. Those guilty of negligence and biased policing must be brought to book.

Now that the senior BJP leadership, including the Prime Minister, has finally condemned the violence, one hopes that the state security apparatus — which comes under the Centre — will be more proactive in restoring normalcto strife-torn parts of the national capital. However, confidence-building measures, which include bringing the guilty to book and ensuring anti-social elements do not spread hatred and exacerbate the communally-charged situation, are essential.

The writer is Editorial Consultant with BusinessLine

Published on March 02, 2020

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