After maintaining silence for long on the Central government and Delhi police questionable roles in the Delhi pogrom, Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke up on the issue in the parliament on 11 March. In his long speech, he tried to answer the questions raised by the opposition leaders around his failure to contain the violence and the police inaction and indulgence in the same.
However, in his responses, Shah not only tried to whitewash the complicit role played by the Delhi police but also made misleading and contradicting claims. He not only tried to protect the real instigators of the violence but also blamed opposition parties and civil right activists and groups.
Let’s start with the misleading claim made by Shah. In his speech, he claimed that the violence had ended at 11 pm on 25 February and northeast Delhi witnessed violence for only 36 hours. On the contrary, the reports, the victims and eyewitnesses about the violence say that the violence continued till 27 February and it was more severe on 26. While the violence was going on, many activists had gone to the affected areas to rescue the survivors who were witnessing the incidents of violence on 26 February.
Reacting to Shah’s claim on the end of violence on 25 night, Yogendra Yadav and former civil servant Shashikant Senthil, who received the complaints of violence, said that what Shah claimed is in contrary to the facts. Senthil said that he was present at the call centers run by activist Harsh Mander for the rescue and was receiving the reports of violence.
“The audacity of the home minister to lie has no parallel. We were present on the 26th night in the call center run by Harsh Mander and committed youngsters. The riots were more severe on the 26th. The horror faced by the youngsters manning the call center still haunts me,” tweeted Senthil. Yadav confirmed to the Senthil’s claim and said they were receiving SOS calls during 26th February.
On the violence of 26 February, NDTV journalist Saurabh Shukla said that according to the Delhi Police 13 people have been killed on 26 February in the violence. Then, it shows that it was Delhi police who is lying or it was Shah who is not telling the truth to the people and parliament. He shared the video clip of a father whose two sons Amir and Hashim were killed on the 26th night.
Apart from that, most of the media reports said that the violence continued for three days from 23 to 26 February and there were also sporadic incidents of violence on 27 as well. These are facts reported by the media and people who were keeping eyes on the incidents unfolding in the affected areas.
The second misleading claim, which is connected to the earlier one, made by Shah is that the violence lasted for only 36 hours starting from 24 February to 25 night. But the reports available narrate a different story. According to the reports, the violence started on 23 night itself after BJP Kapil Mishra’s provocative speeches and it continued till 26 wee hours. Even if we accept Shah’s claim of 36 hour pogrom, the serious question arises why it took 36 hours to control it? How did the violence continue till 36 hours?
Giving clean cheat to the police, Shah claimed that the police was trying to control the violence and they had done good job in this regard. But the victims and the eyewitnesses are saying that the police were not taking any action against the rioters. At some places, they were even involved in the violence against the Muslim victims. There are a number of pieces of evidence like video clips which show that the police were either mute spectators or involved in the violence. The viral video of the police forcing injured Muslim youth to sing national anthem and the BBC video of the police forces pelting stones along with the rioters are incriminating evidences against the Delhi police. The Indian Express report published on 26 February titled “Right under Delhi Police nose, men with rods, sticks assault, set homes ablaze, check ID cards, smash CCTVs” noted the police inaction.
“In embattled neighbourhood after neighbourhood in northeast Delhi, which has been in the grip of violence for three days, one story played through Tuesday from morning to midnight — groups of young men armed with sticks and rods looking for a fight, setting shops and homes owned by Muslims on fire. All right under the nose of the police who either stood as silent spectators, looked the other way or were plain missing when they were most needed,” reported the Indian Express.
Shah also said that the violence happened due to the speech delivered by the opposition leaders and social activists not the speeches by Kapil Mishra, Praveesh Sharma and Anurag Thakur. But according to the reports, the rioters who were running amok to kill people and set properties on fire were chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and were mainly targeting Muslims and their properties. How the opposition leaders and social activists’ speeches did play any role in instigating these Hindutva mobs?
Shah also said that when the violence was happening, he was with the police and was monitoring the situation of the violence. If he was with the police and was monitoring the situations, how did the violence continue happening for three days? There are only two options: whether he is incompetent to tackle law and order situation or he allowed it keep happening. In both situations, he must be held accountable for the Delhi’s anti-Muslim violence and he must resign.
But the sad part of the story is that the Opposition completely failed to hold the Home Minister accountable for the Delhi pogrom. In his entire speech, Shah whitewashed the questionable roles played by him and the Delhi police in three days anti-Muslim violence. No one is demanding the accountability from the Central government for the carnage in the national capital. Such carnage can be carried out again and again if the accountability is not fixed. It is the most dangerous thing to any democracy or society.