Amid uneasy calm in Northeast Delhi, politics heats up over deadly violence

Muqima Khatun, mother of Shahbaz who went missing during the communal clashes in northeast Delhi, wails outside the mortuary of GTB Hospital. PTI
A day after the spate of violence left at least 34 dead and over 100 injured in northeast Delhi, the confrontation has now shifted to the political arena with parties blaming each other for the situation on the ground in the national capital. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday went all out against the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), accusing them of inciting violence and making political capital of the issue.  BJP leader and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar accused the rival parties of “politicising” the issue stating that Congress president Sonia Gandhi had given the call for “aar yaa par” (fight to the finish) in December last year. 

Defending the role of the Delhi Police, Javadekar wondered why other political parties were silent about the attack on the policemen and on the death of Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma. Taking on the AAP, the minister said that its MLAs should have worked for peace. Instead, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal identified riot victims by religion in the Assembly. 

It may be recalled that Javadekar had also called Kejriwal a “terrorist” during the recently held Delhi election campaigns. 

Congress Party delegation led by party President Sonia Gandhi is seen after meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhawan. PTI

Meanwhile, the opposition led by Sonia Gandhi accused Home Minister Amit Shah of "abdication of duty" during the riots in the city and urged President Ram Nath Kovind to call for his resignation and remind the Centre of its "raj dharma". "We call upon you and the constitutional office you hold, that the life, liberty and property of the citizens are preserved, secured and protected. You should immediately call for the removal of the home minister given the gross ineptitude, abdication of duty and his inability to contain the situation,” the opposition urged the president.

"We owe this to the citizens who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and their livelihood and most of all their long-cherished amity and brotherhood. We hope you will take decisive action on this matter," Sonia told the media outside Rashtrapati Bhavan after meeting the president. 

North East Delhi Violence. Photo: PTI

Questioning Shah's role, Gandhi asked where he was while the violence was spreading across northeast Delhi. "What was he preoccupied with since last Sunday that he was unable, apparently, to give his attention to these grave events? For that matter, the Delhi chief minister, and the newly elected Delhi government were also completely missing from the scene," she said.

The NCP attacked the Centre saying the responsibility of maintaining law and order in Delhi is with the Union home ministry. Maharashtra minister and NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik, demanding a probe into whether the home minister could not handle the situation, said that the Gujarat model has been repeated in Delhi, a reference to the 2002 riots in the BJP-ruled state of Gujarat.

The Delhi government, during the day, announced a rehabilitation scheme for those affected by the violence and called for punishing the rioters. Senior AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Gopal Rai said the party's stand on violence remains clear that strictest punishment must be given to anyone spreading it. The reaction came after the family of IB staffer accused AAP councillor Tahir Hussain of being behind the killing.

North East Delhi Violence. Photo: PTI

The communal violence prevailed in parts of northeast Delhi for over 48 hours before the Centre, occupied with hosting US President Donald Trump, took any steps. As the death toll climbed the Delhi High Court said that the police failed to act “professionally.” 

The violence began after protesters and supporters of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act came face to face in the Jaffarabad area after a video captured BJP leader Kapil Mishra warning the police to get the area vacated. 

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