Home minister inspires no confidence

Home minister inspires no confidence

When the Lok Sabha finally debated last month’s communal riots in north-east Delhi two weeks after they occurred and Union Home Minister Amit Shah replied to it, he only evoked more questions about the handling of the riots by the government and Delhi Police. Law and order had completely broken down for three days from February 23 in a part of the national capital and 52 people were killed and many others injured. But the home minister gave not only a clean chit but a certificate of excellent performance to the police. There were credible reports of inaction on the part of the police, and video and photographic evidence and accounts of witnesses had pointed to its dubious role. But Shah has praised the police for controlling the riots within three days. He also said that raising questions about the conduct of the police would demoralise it. He was protecting the police which had not only failed but erred, and it amounted to justifying the wrong and illegal actions of the law enforcement machinery by the person at the top of the system. 

Shah has seen a “well-planned conspiracy’’ behind the riots and promised to unravel it with the investigations being made, ironically, by the same Delhi Police whose actions call for strict and severe scrutiny. He has in fact even told the police who the conspirators are by stating that 300 persons came from Uttar Pradesh to create riots. Shah even traced the source of the trouble to a two-month-old speech made by Congress president Sonia Gandhi  against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), but did not mention the provocative speeches made by BJP leaders days before the riots, including an ultimatum given by Kapil Mishra to the protesters and police in north-east Delhi hours before the first instances of violence started. 

Shah said he was not absent when the riots happened. He had only gone to Ahmedabad where US President Donald Trump was visiting, and on his return spent time with the police. He had also told the National Security Adviser to take charge of the situation. It is a fortnight after the riots that the nation is getting all these explanations and assurances from the home minister, and he has promised to bring all the guilty to book and make the rioters pay for their actions and the damage they have done. But none of the claims, statements and promises made by him carry credibility, because they go counter to known facts and reports about the riots. The country’s home minister spoke like a partisan political leader and not as an administrator, and his account has not given the nation greater confidence about facing such situations in future. 

 

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