New Delhi: Coming down heavily on the Centre over "failure" to contain violence in Delhi, the opposition in Lok Sabha on Wednesday demanded the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah, but the BJP alleged a conspiracy behind the riots and sought to blame anti-CAA protests for the situation.
As the House discussed the recent communal riots in the national capital that have claimed 52 lives, ruling and opposition members traded charges over alleged hate speeches by leaders before the outbreak of violence. Defending the government, the BJP members said the home minister and authorities took pro-active steps to control the situation.
Initiating the discussion on "recent law and order situation in some parts of Delhi", Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wondered how violence continued for three days despite the fact that Delhi Police is one of the best equipped in the country. "The Home Minister (Amit Shah) will have to explain," he said.
Hitting out at the prime minister, he said, Nero fiddled while Rome burned. When Delhi was witnessing violence, Modi was hosting US President Donald Trump in Ahmedabad, the Congress leader said. Chowdhury said while some claimed Hindus won, the others said Muslims won in the violence. "The fact is that humanity was defeated," he said.
He said the situation came under control soon after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited the violence-hit areas. "Why could not the Home Minister go... NSA reports to the Prime Minister. Does this mean that the Prime Minister's Office had lost faith in the home ministry," Chowdhury said hitting out at Shah.
Chowdhury alleged that Delhi High Court judge S Muralidhar was transferred out as he had questioned the failure of the Delhi Police in containing the violence. He said the "midnight" notification was aimed at preventing adverse strictures against the government.
Nishikant Dubey (BJP) said the transfer was recommended by the Supreme Court collegium and the government had nothing to do with it.
Chowdhury sought resignation of Shah, a demand echoed by TMC's Saugata Roy, CPI-M member AM Ariff and NK Premchandran of RSP. "Mr Shah, in the name of God, go," Roy said while looking at Shah who was present in the House.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi said there is a "tsunami of Hindutva hate" and called for an impartial probe to find the perpetrators of the violence. Some of his remarks evoked sharp response from the Treasury benches, with at least two Union ministers - Ravi Shankar Prasad and Kishan Reddy - registering their protests. Speaker Om Birla also expunged certain remarks made by Owaisi.
BJP members said evidence showed that stones and petrol bombs were stored in huge quantity to fuel the violence. BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi alleged that some people are taking political benefit out of the incidents of violence. Referring to the killing of IB officer Ankit Sharma during the riots, she said 400 wounds were found on his body. "What kind of hatred was this... we should discuss that also," she said, adding the riots were pre-planned.
She also alleged that stones and catapults were found in the house of an AAP councillor and hate speeches were given by an MLA of the party. "Every tenth home had catapults, which were used in the riots," she added.
Lekhi hit back at the Opposition after it questioned the timing of transfer of Justice Muralidhar, saying IB reports of "some people" should be made public to clear the air. Lekhi, however, did not name anyone. "Some judges, I won't name, some judges believe that unless a protest is violent, police will not take action. Who will decide when will the protest become violent.. the judges they have named.... They don't know that government cannot transfer without recommendation... transfer was not done, it had already happened. I want to say that the IB (Intelligence Bureau) reports about some people should be made public. Everyone will understand who was transferred and for what reason," she said. Danish Ali (BSP) demanded that certain remarks of Lekhi be expunged.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said members should not take the names of any religion in the debate. Birla expunged certain names taken by Lekhi and asked her not to name people.
Lekhi said that the government acted pro-actively and riots were controlled within 36 hours. She also said that the allegations of hate speeches on Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma were not relevant as the riots started on 23 February. She also defended BJP leader Kapil Mishra, saying it was wrong to blame him for the riots.
However, TMC's Saugata Roy criticised the remarks by Lekhi, who is a senior lawyer, calling her "Devil's advocate". Lekhi alleged that after the speech of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi at Ramlila maidan, people had started gathering.
Similar speeches were given by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi as well, Lekhi said. "For three months, people are sitting on roads," she said referring to people protesting at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. She added that work to instigate people and propagate extremism was going on since long. "This government wants to do the politics of development," she said, adding the government is providing houses, power connections and cylinders to people not on the basis of religion. "Why is the opposition spreading rumours," she said.
She said that the current government "violated the no go zone" and acted to scrap Article 370 and triple talaq. She said that opposition members of the House understand the CAA law but are "continuously misleading the people".
Citing certain data on riots, Lekhi said during 1950 to 1964, as many as 243 riots are documented. When Indira Gandhi was prime minister, 337 riots happened during 1966 to 1977 and 1980 and 1984. Similarly, when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister, 291 riots occurred during 1984 and 1989. Out of 1094 riots, 871 happened during Congress regime, which was 73 per cent, she added. "18 big riots happened during Congress regime," she added.
She said that the opposition is taking about one riot in Gujarat but no riots happened in that state after 2002. She said that the people of Delhi must be feeling guilty as after voting a government which gave free power and water they are now facing such incidents. She said Doval visited the areas hit by riots as he is in-charge of the security of the country. On the allegation that Home Minister Amit Shah did not act, she listed out meetings of the Home Minister with officers to assess the situation.
TR Baalu (DMK) said that the Delhi riots and the law and order situation of the national capital were discussed in parliaments of the UK, Iran, Indonesia, Turkey and Malaysia. These countries "are making fun of us", he said. These all countries have raised concerns over the CAA, he said adding today was the 88th day of protest at Shaheen Bagh "without any problem". The protest was happening silently and peacefully there because that are managed by minorities, he said.
Baalu said that "what went wrong" as over 50 people were killed in the Delhi violence. He said that although Delhi Police is efficient in managing the issues, "why all went wrong" on those days. "The inaction of the police has been advised by the administration," he said. He also alleged that ABVP, RSS student wing, is the root cause of the incidents at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in December last year. He also said that BJP leader Kapil Mishra's "hate speeches" led to these riots.
Tejasvi Surya of BJP claimed that while there wasn't anything anti-Muslim in CAA, the anti-CAA protests had "a lot of anti-Hindu" feelings. AAP member Bhagwant Mann claimed that people were brought from outside to incite violence and that it was a "sponsored riots". CPI's K Subbarayan alleged that hate speeches was a reason and that the central government was complicit in the riots.
CPI-M member AM Ariff alleged that the government was "killing the country's secular nature". He also referred to banning of two Malayalam television channels regarding their coverage of Delhi riots and the transfer of high court judge. Ariff also demanded the resignation of the home minister.
Condemning the violence, NCP member Amol Ramsing Kolhe wondered whether hate speeches cannot be controlled, and flagged concerns about "religious nationalism". Taking a dig, he remarked that "if there is a heart in the 56-inch chest," then they would say that there were shortcomings in dealing with the situation.
IUML leader P K Kunhalikutty said "majority of the minority community" are scared due to plans for NRC and NPR. While claiming that the Citizenship Amendment Act was the first law passed in the name of religion, he said India is becoming a theological state.
BJP member Sanjay Jaiswal criticised the Congress and mentioned about various incidents of violence that happened when the rival party ruled. He also said that "people should not be burnt just because they lost 2019 elections".
National Conference member Hasnain Masoodi alleged that the government has promoted a culture of impunity and that there was total negligence. KRK Raju (YSRCP) said it should be probed why the violence happened, especially when US President Donald Trump was visiting the country.
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Updated Date: Mar 12, 2020 10:10:27 IST