By Rajesh Koul;
It is not important who died in the recent Delhi riots! but a human being lost life. A father has lost his child, mother has lost her son and a daughter, husband has lost his spouse, wife her partner and an old man a support. It is not important to analyze and count, dead person’s religion, caste, creed, colour and focus cameras closely to identify his race, but at the end of the day India has lost a talent and family has lost a resource!
Whether a dead person is a Hindu or a Muslim, a Sikh or a Christian, known or an unknown; India has lost a talent which could have been utilized for the development and growth of the country. Family could have been benefitted by the contribution of that lost human resource. Every riot teaches us a lesson and that lesson is very simple “Man Killed a Man”.
Background of Delhi Riots
Ministry of Home Affairs under Government of India introduced CAB “Citizenship Amendment Bill” through its Minister Shri Amit Shah on 9 Dec 2019. The bill was tabled in the lower house of the parliament and after proper discussions was passed by the house by 311 votes in favour and 80 against the bill. Latter the CAB was presented by Mr. Shah in the upper house of the Parliament and there too CAB was passed by 125 votes in favour and 105 votes against the bill.
The passage of the bill was opposed by Indian National Congress, and other UPA alliance parties. Mr Shah managed numbers in both the houses and got the bill passed. The President of India signed the bill and it became a Law and an act, thus was named as “CAA” Citizenship Amendment Act.
The CAA guarantees citizenship to the persecuted non-Muslims from the countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The persecuted minorities included Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, and Parsi. Home Minister argued that since Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are Islamic Nations so Muslims who are in majority in these countries could not be treated as persecuted minorities and they have these countries to live in whereas the persecuted minorities have no country to live except India which is a Hindu Majority State.
Opposition parties lead by Congress staged anti CAA protests in many States like Assam, Kerala, Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Many people died during the protests. Public property was damaged, public transport disrupted and shops looted. The worst hit was Uttar Pradesh which recorded death of 23 persons.
Protests were witnessed and reported from Jamia Milia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University campuses also. During the Protests Official visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was cancelled. He was supposed to visit Guwahati Assam but due to demonstrations the visit was cancelled.
As the State governments were able to control anti CAA protests and riots, Shaheen Bagh protests emerged. It was Delhi Assembly Elections campaign time. All of a sudden hundreds of old aged women, middle aged women started SIT in on the main service road of Shaheen Bagh. That road is the main road and busiest road which connects Noida, greater Noida, Yamuna Expressway and Noida Expressway to South Delhi via Sarita Vihar.
Daily thousands of vehicles ply on this road. People from these areas opt this road to reach Jasola Commercial hub, International and domestic airport, AIIMS, Apollo hospital, Escorts hospital, Nehru Place, Gurugram, and Faridabad.
People wondered why the decision makers like Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, LG Anil Baijal, Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik and Home Minister Amit Shah, did not initiate any action against the women who sat on the main service road without permission?
Shaheen Bagh sit-in started on 14 Dec 2019 and is still going on. Aam Aadmi Party won Delhi Assembly Elections with thumping majority. Amanullah Khan MLA from Okhla under which Shaheen Bagh falls also won the elections on AAP ticket. Shaheen Bagh became international story and daily Indian media platforms provided prominent place and space for Shaheen Bagh demonstrations.
Traffic from Greater Noida, Noida was diverted to DND flyway. Police put barricades at several locations in order to avoid any mishap on the Shaheen Bagh protesters. Thousands of people faced and are facing hardships while commuting via DND flyway which took minimum 3 hours to reach from Noida to South Delhi during peak hours of the traffic.
People missed flights, patients faced trouble reaching Apollo and other hospitals. Working class felt harassed while commuting to and fro from Gurugram, Faridabad and South Delhi to Noida and Greater Noida. But Delhi CM Kejriwal blamed Home Minister Amit Shah for not clearing the Shaheen Bagh and Amit Shah blamed Kejriwal for not convincing the demonstrators to vacate the service road. Delhi Police felt helpless.
Finally PILs were filed with Supreme court of India. SC bench heard the arguments could not deliver any decision on Shaheen Bagh sit-in. Shaneen Bagh is still going on and SC has reserved its decision for 23 March now. People are facing same troubles and hardships while commuting via DND Flyway.
On 23 Feb anti CAA protestors started gathering at Jaffrabad area of North East Delhi and started sit-in. Local BJP leader warned the protectors and the Delhi Police to clear the road from these protestors or else face consequences if Police fails to do so. The tension between pro and anti CAA protestors started brewing up in Jaffrabad area. It spread to other North East Delhi areas like a fire and devastated everything.
It was time for a very important and high profile official visit of American President Donald J Trump. He landed Ahmedabad on 24 Feb at 11.40 am along with high level delegation and the FLOTUS.
In the evening Trump reached Delhi around 10.30 Pm. While Trump was about to reach, more news spread about riots in North East Delhi. The whole administration was busy in spearheading Security and other arrangement for Trump, riots escalated sharply on 25 Feb and later on 26 Feb also.
The worst day of the riot was 25 Feb that is the day when Trump was in Delhi and was having business meetings with Indian Prime Minister. Timings of the riots caused embarrassment for India and during the Press Conference Journalists did ask Trump about his reaction on anti CAA protests and the causalities in North East Delhi area.
Whose responsibility was North East Delhi?
Maintaining law and order in Delhi is a tricky question. Delhi is a Union Territory having Legislative Assembly. The legislative Assembly is duly elected by the people and the government functions under a Chief Minister. It is Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi which was re-elected on 11 Feb. UTs in India have LGs instead of Governors as constitutional heads. LG reports to the president of India as well as the Home Minister for Law and Order related matters. So technically it was the responsibility of the CM Arvind Kejriwal to LG and LG should have taken it to Home Minister.
It is believed that the due process might have been followed by the responsible heads and it is a matter of investigation to find out who lacked to take timely decision for imposing section 144 or Curfew and deploy sufficient anti-riot police force in the areas. The delay in deploying police force has raised many eyebrows for the government.
It is very surprising to notice here that hundreds of outsiders gathered in the North East Delhi area, dumped arms, ammunitions, petrol bombs, stones, acid packets and iron rods in the area.
They strategized their attacking peaks and points on the roof top of various Schools, politician’s properties and other buildings and no one knew about these developments? Ministry of Home Affairs is equipped with a strong intelligence system like IB and Delhi Police reports to the Home Minister still no clue or intelligence input was drawn from the riot area prior to riots
Can we conclude here that it was a complete failure of spy agencies, Delhi Police and finally the failure of Home Minister to curb these riots on time? Should not Intelligence agencies and Delhi Police had been more alert and vigilant when American President was in Delhi? Should not Home Minister had been alert, post Anti CAA protests and Shaheen Bagh sit-in? These are the questions which Shah should duly acknowledge and reply. We have lost 46 human beings and more than 200 are injured.
Riots of any nature, type or for any purpose brings pain to the human beings, it takes India back to darker days. It does not kill a Hindu or a Muslim but a talent and a resource. Government’s first duty is to save lives and property of its citizens. Government cannot wait and watch. Government cannot utilize riots for winning elections. It has to act and act on time to save people, and to save properties. Media cannot be divided on a story. Reporting has to be impartial, unbiased and transparent. Whatever reporter sees at the ground Zero he/she has to report. Media cannot hide one part of the story and reveal the other part to please its masters. It is fourth pillar of democracy and it has to set an example. Media cannot be BJP oriented or Congress oriented. It cannot be Left oriented or right oriented?
Finally, had intelligence agencies acted on time, provided the right inputs, had CM Delhi taken immediate measures with responsibility, and had Home Minister acted on time; we could have saved Ankit Sharma, Ratan Lal, and 47 others from gruesome deaths. India must learn a lesson and devise effective Law and Order procedures and systems so that citizens are not pushed to grief and pain in future. India should have zero tolerance to rioting, perpetrators of violence, terrorist and anti-social elements who so ever they may be. It should initiate actions irrespective of religion, caste, creed, colour and race. Whether the instigators are politicians, social leaders, media persons, journalists, bureaucrats or anyone else timely action against them will save Indian ethos and harmony.
Rajesh Koul is an Indian philanthropist