New Delhi: It took 24 deaths and judicial intervention for the executive to finally take measures to end the mayhem in Delhi’s north-east, where rioters clashed for the past three days, injuring at least 228 others.
While the Supreme Court and Delhi high court questioned the Delhi Police’s ability to contain the clashes between gangs belonging to two communities, the Centre scrambled national security adviser Ajit Doval to bring the situation under control in violence-affected Jaffrabad, Maujpur, Ashok Nagar and Seelampur neighbourhoods.
Both the Supreme Court and the high court on Wednesday rapped the city police administration, questioning its ability to contain violence, arson and stone-pelting, as youths carrying guns, iron bars and hockey sticks ran riot across predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods of north-east Delhi, setting vehicles, shops and religious structures on fire. The high court also asked the police to take a “conscious decision” on the registration of first information reports (FIR) against senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma and Kapil Mishra for allegedly inciting violence and hate speech.
Doval later briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as the Cabinet Committee on Security, on the prevailing situation in the national capital. No violence was reported on Wednesday.
“The violence was caused by outside elements. Both Hindus and Muslims have died,” Doval told locals and reporters. “Police is doing their job, please have faith in the law enforcement agencies. I have full confidence that the situation is under control.” Later, he also met Union home minister Amit Shah to apprise him of the situation.
Sunday’s flare-up between pro- and anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) groups took a communal colour through Monday and Tuesday, drawing flak from opposition parties. While the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party blamed the central government for allowing the violence to spin out of control, the Congress demanded Shah’s resignation.
On Tuesday, human rights activist Harsh Mander filed a petition seeking registration of FIRs against Mishra, Thakur and Verma for inciting violence through hate speech. He also sought directions to the Centre to deploy the Army to maintain law and order in the national capital, where the “communal attack on people” is “most ferocious”.
The high court also expressed its displeasure regarding police inaction over non-registration of FIRs and asked why no prohibitory measures had been taken to clamp down on such speeches. Reiterating that it did not want a repeat of the 1984 riots, Justice S. Muralidhar said: “We don’t want 1984 again. This city has seen enough. Let us approach in collective spirit… How many lives need to be lost and properties need to be lost? You tell us the consequences of not registering the FIRs. If the slogans are repeated again and again, this means there is no deterrence. We are simply asking why FIRs were not registered.”
While the Delhi Police and central paramilitary troops continued to patrol the violence-affected areas, curfew was imposed in Jaffrabad. Police warned residents not to venture out of their homes or let children out.
Authorities also recovered the body of an Intelligence Bureau official from a drain. Ankit Sharma, 26, had allegedly been set on fire after being caught by a mob. He had gone to the area to inspect the extent of violence.
Special commissioner of police (law and order) S.N. Shrivastava, who was appointed on late on Tuesday, along with special commissioner of police (crime) Satish Golcha, also reached Jaffrabad to assess the situation.