New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence over the riots in the national capital’s north eastern region on day four of the violence, after at least 21 people were killed and hundreds more were injured.
Peace and harmony are central to our ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times. It is important that there is calm and normalcy is restored at the earliest.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 26, 2020
Shortly after Modi’s tweets were posted, Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar both commented on the violence. Both, however, seemed to have made Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s call for Union home minister Amit Shah’s resignation the focus of their addresses.
The Home Minister is continuously working with the police, helping their morale and directing them.
Such comments and politics from Congress will not help the morale of the police. We appeal to them to not do politics on the issue: Shri @PrakashJavdekar
— BJP (@BJP4India) February 26, 2020
While Javadekar said the violence had drawn to a close, Prasad reportedly spent several minutes in “condemning” Sonia Gandhi’s press conference and Congress’s criticism of the handling of the violence.
Sonia Gandhi had earlier said that the Centre and the Delhi government were responsible for the deadly communal violence in the city and demanded that Shah should resign taking responsibility for it.
However, several leaders of Modi’s party, BJP, have been out in the open shouting communally-charged slogans, if not openly condoning the violence.
Instead of making efforts to control the situation, several BJP, and other right-wing fringe group leaders have made remarks which could well be considered polarising. Some have even chanted “Jai Shri Ram” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.
The sloganeering did not just stop on the street. Soon after the Himachal Pradesh state assembly budget session, the state chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said, “Bharat mein ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ karne wala rahega…aur jo nahi bolega, jo Bharat ka virodh karega, sanvidhanik vyavasthaon ka sammaan nahi karega, niraadar karega, baar baar karega, unke baare mei nischit roop se vichar karne ki aavyashakta hai (‘the person who says ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ will stay on in India…and the one who does not say it, who opposes India, will not respect the constitution, will repeatedly dishonour it, there is definitely a need to come to a judgement about them).”
The Wire on February 25 had reported about the involvement of a BJP leader Jai Bhagwan Goel in a street rally of over 100 persons amidst a Section 144 clampdown. Goyal also spoke words which could be construed as polarising.
“Agar yahan rahna hai, toh khada hona hoga (‘If you want to stay here, then you will have to rise up’)” the 60-year-old saffron-clad leader had declared, even as his voice faded amidst chants of “Jai Shri Ram” and “Har Har Mahadev.”
While the police have been directly held responsible for not acting promptly to quell the violence unleashed largely by Hindutva groups on men and even women and children belonging to the Muslim communities, the role of BJP leaders at such times have raised some serious questions.
Days before the violence broke, BJPs MLA Kapil Mishra had given an “ultimatum” to Delhi Police to clear the roads of anti-CAA protesters or else, he said, they would have to hit the streets.
As warned, the situation went out of control starting February 24. There have been demands made, even from within the party East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir, to initiate criminal action against Mishra. Gambhir, notably, only mentioned senior constable Ratan Lal who died in the violence.
Extremely sad to hear about the death of Senior Police Constable Shri Ratan Lal during violent anti CAA protests.There is no scope for violence in democratic protests. I request everyone to maintain peace and urge @DelhiPolice to take strict action against the culprits. pic.twitter.com/1PobrXWKka
— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) February 24, 2020
But Mishra continues to be defiant and has made charged comments even as violence raged. “
Those who did not consider Burhan Wani and Afzal Guru as terrorists are calling Kapil Mishra a terrorist. Those who go to court to get Yakub Memon, Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam released are demanding the arrest of Kapil Mishra. Jai Shri Ram,” Mishra tweeted in Hindi this morning.
जिन्होंने कभी बुरहान वानी और अफ़ज़ल गुरु तक को आतंकवादी नहीं माना
वो कपिल मिश्रा को आतंकवादी बता रहे हैं
जो याकूब मेनन , उमर खालिद और शरजील इस्लाम को रिहा करवाने कोर्ट जाते हैं
वो कपिल मिश्रा को गिरफ्तार करने की माँग कर रहे हैं
जय श्री राम
— Kapil Mishra (@KapilMishra_IND) February 26, 2020
Hearing a petition seeking an independent inquiry into the violence in North East Delhi, the Delhi high court’s division bench of Justices Muralidhar and Talwant Singh directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to advice the police commissioner on filing FIRs against Mishra for his incendiary speeches.