New Delhi: A delegation of concerned citizens and women’s rights activists met Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday evening, in light of continuing communal riots in the national capital.
The delegation strongly urged the Delhi government heads to take “more visible and proactive measures” to prevent rioting and restore peace and confidence in the city.
Prominent activists and professionals Farah Naqvi, Vrinda Grover, Kavita Krishnan, Bhasha Singh, Ayesha Kidwai, Sarojini Nadimpally, Navsharan Singh, Tani Bhargava, Pratiksha Baxi, Indira Unninayar, Ratna Appnender, Maya John and Poonam Kaushik were a part of the group.
They suggested that the chief minister and all Aam Aadmi Party MLAs should “send out a strong message of moral leadership against communalism and targeting of vulnerable Muslims”. The group said that video messages by Kejriwal and appeals for Hindu-Muslim unity should be circulated.
The group shared some alarming ground reports with the chief minister and urged him to immediately open “nodal peace-keeping centres and safe houses” for vulnerable people, and start a helpline for SOS calls.
“The Deputy CM and CM heard our concerns and suggestions. They did not make categorical commitments, but we hope they will act on some of them, and that the AAP government will play a more proactive role in pushing the law and order machinery to act impartially, urgently prevent escalation, and help restore peace to Delhi,” the delegation said in a press release after the meeting.
Kejriwal’s handling of the riots has come in for a lot of criticism. On Monday, Congress leader Ajay Maken had made similar suggestions to the chief minister.
As a CM, please do not appear to be helpless-
A few suggestions-
1)Immediately establish a helpline directly under you for any complaint of police inaction or that of violence-to be monitored & further passed on to the Police+SDM (directly under DelhiGovt pic.twitter.com/p4uq0uVHX2
— अजय माकन (@ajaymaken) February 24, 2020
While the chief minister made some efforts in this regard, most of his day was spent on political optics. On Tuesday morning, he told the press that he has had a meeting with his MLAs from affected people and appealed for peace. He also asked the MLAs to form peace committees. Both he and his deputy met the injured people at various hospitals and visited the house of head constable Ratan Lal who died on Monday from injuries he received in riot violence.
The chief minister also met the Union home minister Amit Shah, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, the Delhi Police commissioner and leaders of all political parties, and later went to Rajghat to pray for peace.
While pointing out that the police personnel on the ground were not acting against the mobs effectively because they did not get clear orders from the top, he did not accuse the Centre directly.
दिल्ली में हम सभी को मिल कर फिर से शांति बहाल करनी है। सरकार की तरफ़ से हम हर कदम उठा रहे हैं। pic.twitter.com/8QBWKlcetJ
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 25, 2020
On many occasions, Kejriwal has been upfront in accusing the Centre of mismanaging the Delhi police, but his criticism has been muted in the aftermath of these large-scale communal riots that have broken down the city’s law and order more than anything in the recent past.
Although the Delhi Police, responsible for city’s law and order, is under the Union home ministry, Kejriwal and other AAP MLAs have barely made their presence felt in trying to restore peace and order in the riot-affected areas of north-east Delhi.
Given the chief minister’s aggressive record against the Centre on even the minutest of differences, his response to communal riots which has affected at least seven prominent regions of north-east Delhi has only been meek.