New Delhi, February 28: While the US President was being hosted in Delhi by Prime Minister Modi and his administration, the anger over the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) and protests against it had taken an ugly turn. Protesters of Shaheen Bagh had been talking to the mediators – two lawyers appointed by the Supreme Court of India, India’s highest court, and some progress was expected on that front, particularly in light of the observations made by the apex Court that dissenters could not blockade public places indefinitely to register their displeasure over something that the administration planned and they did not like. But Delhi burnt.
But suddenly in the shadows of ‘NaMoSte Trump’ some sinister plan was being hatched to take Delhi down to its knees and the two mobs – supporters of CAA and protesters – started clashing (and attacking police according to some reports) and Delhi – the heart and capital of India burnt in parts – and burnt alive. Arson, riots, stone pelting, throwing of petrol bombs and sudden destruction took over, clouding the whole issue of dissent and disagreement over the controversial CAA.
As Delhi burnt incessantly, the ill-fated protests turned into communal clashes and took over the North-Eastern Delhi spiraling into bloodshed, arson and looting, with incidents of vehicles and shops being set on fire in Chand Bagh, Maujpur, Bhajanpura and other areas. A body of a man was found in a drain in Johri Enclave. Reports claimed it was Ankit Sharma, a Security personnel working for a Security Agency who had just been called to help by a neighbour. TV reports claimed the moment he stepped out of his house to help, the local Muslim mob dragged him into the house of local Aam Aadmi Party Delhi Councillor – Tahir Hussain where he was killed. Several TV reports showed people claiming Tahir Hussein had killed Ankit Sharma or suggested had him killed under his watch.
Many Indian TV channels have shown sacks of stones, stacks of petrol bombs and sling shots at the roo top of Tahir Hussein’s house. Some videos have gone viral – claiming to show Tahir Hussain actively participating in rioting.
There are reports claiming mobs (along with Tahir Hussain being present there) occupying Tahir Hussein’s house and leading the attacks on neighbouring people and properties and setting them on fire.
It certainly does not look like the case where Hindus only have been victims. The violence visuals give a stinking picture of multi-pronged mala fide orchestration which began with hate speeches being hurled from all directions. In some respects, uglier than even the 1984 riots, the death toll in Delhi’s worst riots in more than three decades climbed to 38 by February 27 as the violence seemed ebbing but not subsiding completely while tens of thousands of people began picking up the pieces of what is left in their shattered lives and livelihoods.
According to India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta some 360 FIRs were lodged in relation to the Delhi violence. Delhi Police have transferred the riots probe to the Crime Branch and formed two Special Investigation Teams.
A practically ‘powerless’ opposition party in India, the Congress party took the issue to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, calling on the President of India, Shri ram Nath Kovind. While carrying a horrendous track record of controlling violence (in 1984), and perhaps not hiding their smiles in private, the Congress delegation led by party chief Sonia Gandhi urged President Ram Nath Kovind to call for Home Minister Amit Shah’s resignation.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal – who is under some pressure for his own Tahir Hussein being ostensibly implicated in the riots neck-deep, suggested severest of action against anyone involved. Put them behind bars and punish them no matter who he is, Kejriwal thundered.
Painting a picture of Delhi burnt – a look-alike of devastation of Iraq, the scorched shops, blackened walls, the ashen remains of buildings and vehicles, glass shards and bricks, told a very telling story of what had happened there in the mixed neighbourhoods of the national capital’s North-Eastern Delhi, without uttering a single syllable.
The residents there are trying to come to terms with the losses to their lives and livelihoods with their shops, workshops and in some cases fruit and vegetable carts burnt while Delhi burnt, leaving wounds to their charred psyches which will take in some cases lifetime to heal, if at all.