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Comment: Three days of violent attacks in Delhi could not take place without state sanction

Violence in Indian cities simply does not take place over multiple days without the state’s active involvement.

Published Feb 26, 2020 01:20pm

If it had been an hour or two, there might have been the argument that the police was unprepared. If it had come out of the blue while an important dignitary was visiting the national capital, one might have argued that the Home Ministry was blindsided. If it was taking place in a hard-to-reach part of the country, you could have said that the terrain made things difficult.

But when violent anti-Muslim mobs are able to roam freely in Delhi, India’s capital, for three whole days, after a ruling party politician stood in front of a top police officer and threatened to take violence into his own hands, it is clear that they have the sanction of authorities.

From videos and reports of Delhi Police either turning a blind eye or even taking part in the violence, to the silence of top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, there can be no doubt of the state’s role in the events of the last few days.

Violence in Indian cities simply does not take place over multiple days without the state’s active involvement.

If the police were unable to stop the anti-Muslim mobs, they should have said so and called in the army to establish the peace. Yet, after a meeting on Tuesday, the Delhi Police said it had things under control, even as entire sections of the national capital were unreachable unless you were a member of a violent mob.

Reports and eyewitnesses over Monday and Tuesday made it clear that the mobs had the backing of the police and even their active involvement in some cases. While many will point to violence coming from “both sides” — and undoubtedly there were incidents of stone-pelting from anti-Citizenship Act amendment protesters — the police’s partisan decision to support one group should be a clear indicator of what is going on here: state-sponsored mob violence, that is leading to retaliation.

It is worthless attempting to understand why the BJP-led government would want to resort to such violence, especially at a time when the US president was visiting the capital. Such speculation attempts to read tea leaves and look past the actual religiously divisive and violent rhetoric used by many in the party time and again: “shoot the traitors”, “we will enter their houses and beat them up”, “there is only one name, that is Jai Shri Ram.”

Home Minister Amit Shah admitted that his party should not have used such rhetoric in the run-up to elections in Delhi, in which the BJP was trounced. But the BJP politicians who made such statements saw small slaps on the wrist from the Election Commission at the most.

It is one of those politicians, Kapil Mishra, who gave an ultimatum to the police and sparked off the current round of violence in the capital. While other BJP leaders in the capital have even questioned his words, there has been no response from the party’s central leadership. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have been loud in their silence.

All of this again leads to the straightforward conclusion: The BJP-led government is responsible for three days of violence in Delhi.


This article was originally published on Scroll.in and has been reproduced with permission.