Why Delhi burnt under Centre's watch?

Delhi Feb 27, 2020, 06.40 PM(IST) Written By: Kartikeya Sharma

Ajit Doval and Delhi Riots Photograph:( AFP )

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Everyone knew that violence was a result of communal politics, still leaders across the party lines maintained a safe distance. 

Riots in Delhi mark an abject failure of political leadership cutting across party lines, to bring people together. There was a point in time in Indian politics when politicians or people in public service had the capacity to control, and even, influence events which turned violent. 

What we have today are political minions. It is expected of political leaders to come out and reason with the crowd, but instead of working on the ground, the matter in Delhi was left to the police as a law and order issue. Everyone knew that violence was a result of communal politics, still all party leaders maintained a safe distance. 

The violence has two main dimensions. First, Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, failed to demonstrate moral courage and instead of mobilising his supporters to heal the fissure, he only issued statements. It is a reflection of how shallow connect politicians enjoy with the civil society.

This is unlike the previous generation wherein it was expected of people in public service to go out and calm the crowd. Arvind Kejriwal who was elected as the chief minister of Delhi with great fanfare, failed to intercede in the issue. His supporters argue that he does not have police under his control, so he cannot be blamed for law and order issue. Fact is that since last year, Kejriwal has created a distance between the minorities and himself so that BJP does not pin him down as a person who pampers minority. But by not being active during the crisis, Kejriwal, in the process, has come across as insincere politician who succumbed to competitive Hindutva. 

After partition, Mahatma Gandhi had nothing under his control, but he used his moral authority to bring peace in riot-affected areas. This could have been done in Delhi too.

Another aspect of the riot was that politicians from BJP spoke blatantly in Hindu-Muslim binary. Senior leaders did not discourage junior leaders from using inflammatory language. Senior BJP leadership's appeal for calm came across as unconvincing. 

Politicians from the ruling dispensation not only made hate speeches but also went unpunished, emboldening the unruly element to take the law into their own hands.

The police, on the other hand, failed to counter the unruly elements in the riot-affected area. The police in Delhi reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Despite all the technology at its disposal, it failed to locate the centre of violence in the city. Delhi riots cannot be compared with the 1984 violence when the state became completely complicit in the violence. In Delhi, the state allowed the violence to come to life. Delhi Police failed to arrest culprits in time.

Whatever the reason be, pro-CAA protests or anti-CAA protests, Delhi police failed at its job. NSA Ajit Doval’s presence in the area after 72 hours of violence sealed the case. It is not the job of the NSA to move around in a riot-hit area like a DCP or IG. NSA chased by TV cameras looked more like a PR job. 

The religious radicals from both sides were allowed to have a free run. Lastly, many in the ruling dispensation must be happy to have found another issue for polarisation but they should remember that in Hindu literature only Goddess rides a tiger.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)