While 7 People Were Killed in Delhi, What Was the Home Minister Doing?

Amit Shah has not made any public remarks about the ongoing violence and loss of lives.

New Delhi: Beginning late morning, North East Delhi saw large-scale violence on Monday – stone-pelting, arson, people being beaten with bricks and rods. Seven people were killed, including a Delhi police head constable. The violence has continued on Tuesday, and reports suggest the Delhi police are largely looking on instead of intervening.

Pro-government groups have been accused of burning Muslims’ shops and properties and beating people with lathis, and anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protestors have also reportedly resorted to stone-pelting and violence. Reporters have also been beaten up and threatened, and pro-government groups have been asking them their religion.

In the middle of all this, where is Amit Shah? As the home minister, law and order in the union territory of Delhi come under his ambit, and his ministry controls the Delhi police.

On Sunday, Shah had reached Ahmedabad ahead of US President Donald Trump’s arrival in the city. His plan was to attend the ‘Namaste Trump’ event at Motera stadium, and then stay on in Ahmedabad until Monday evening. And that’s exactly what he did – even as reports of serious violence emerged from the capital city.

Late on Monday night, once he was back in Delhi (and while the violence was still on and reports of deaths had come in), Shah called an “urgent” meeting with home ministry officials and Delhi police commissioner Amulya Patnaik. India Today quoted sources as saying that Shah “directed officials to restore normalcy at the earliest”.

Also read: Delhi Ground Report: Stone-Pelting, Arson Continues in Ghonda, Police Stand By

However, he made no public remarks about what was happening – not even about the police constable’s death. He also did not direct any action to be taken against Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra, who many believe directly instigated the violence. He had given the Delhi police an “ultimatum” to clear the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protest sites, and said the police will not be able to stop what will happen otherwise.

Not only was Mishra not taken to task for his remarks, it appears that the Delhi police did not prepare for the consequences of his threat.

On Tuesday, Shah called a meeting of Patnaik, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, BJP president and North East Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari, Delhi Congress president Subhash Chopra and others. After the meeting, Kejriwal said the home minister had assured adequate police deployment. The meeting was “positive”, he said, while flanked by the Centre’s representative, Baijal.

After this meeting too, the home minister did not make any public statement about what was being done and the loss of lives.