Centre must quickly quell riots in Delhi

| Updated on February 28, 2020

Otherwise anxieties over CAA/NRC/NPR would intensify

It is shocking that the Centre has not shown a sense of urgency in cracking down on riots, murder and arson in the Capital city. Mobs have roamed with impunity for six days or more, lynching people, torching homes, shops and mosques and temples, despite the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval’s curious one-man-army march through the riot-hit localities. What is desperately needed are adequate troops on the ground — and even more important, an assurance that the institutions of the State shall be impartial and unfettered in doing their duty. It is with respect to the latter that there have been grievous lapses on at least two counts. First, Delhi Police, under the control of the Home Ministry, has either watched as spectator or arguably abetted mobs. Second, Justice S Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court — who has expressed outrage over the violence and inability of the Delhi Police to curb hate speech by ruling party leaders — has been transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s justification of the late night transfer order as “routine” cuts no ice.

It is clear that since the passage by Parliament of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), there is heightened insecurity among Muslims. The spectre of the National Population Register (NPR) exercise beginning in April is bound to exaggerate these fears, in the absence of any reassurance or healing touch. People have sought to assert their citizenship rights with women taking to prolonged sit-ins, in Shaheen Bagh in Delhi and across the country. For nearly three months as Delhi geared up for Assembly elections, ministers and MPs of the ruling party jeered at and threatened women peacefully protesting against the CAA/NPR/NRC regime. BJP leader Kapil Mishra went to Maujpur/Jaffrabad localities and threatened the protesting women that if they “don’t clear out, after Trump’s (US President Donald Trump) visit, we will clear you out”. And when Justice Muralidhar said these leaders should be punished for inciting riots and that his court will “not allow a repeat of 1984 under its watch”, he was transferred.

The Centre should reach out to alienated sections. Grieving families of the police, intelligence personnel and the common people who have died and are critically injured deserve better. There should be more forces on the ground, and they should act impartially. For too long has the country been wracked by instability, even as the economy stumbles from one uncertainty to the next. Notwithstanding gushing tributes by Trump, India’s not looking ‘great’ in the eyes of the world.

Published on February 28, 2020

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