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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 12, New Delhi, March 7, 2020

The Hidden Script of Delhi Riots

Monday 9 March 2020, by Arup Kumar Sen

The recent Delhi riots bear testimony to a new paradigm of anti-Muslim violence. On the eve of the Delhi Assembly elections on February 8, 2020, a number of BJP leaders made anti-minority hate speeches, which reportedly prepared the base for the Delhi riots.

Reportedly, anti-CAA protestors, including women, had gathered in large numbers and occupied a portion of the road near Jaffrabad Metro station on February 22, 2020. The BJP leader, Kapil Mishra, gave a call to his supporters in the social media on February 23 to gather in large numbers at Maujpur Chowk at 3 pm to give an answer to the blockade at Jaffrabad. At around 3.30-4 pm, he made provocative speeches in a rally in the area. (See “How violence unfolded in northeast Delhi” in The rally led by Mishra to counter the anti-CAA protests in the area had been followed by waves of stone pelting. He reportedly tweeted after the violence that “till (Trump) is in India, we are leaving the area peacefully...after that, we won’t listen to you (police)”. (The Indian Express, February 25, 2020)

Outlook spoke to a wide spectrum of people across religious and social strata to dig out what really happened on February 23, 2020, to understand the dynamics of the Delhi riots. To put it in the words of one such woman witness to the riots in northeast Delhi: “Everything was peaceful till the time BJP leader Kapil Mishra came on February 23 and made an incendiary evening right-wing goons gathered at Maujpur Chowk. Had the police acted against these people, the riots wouldn’t have erupted”. (See Outlook, March 9, 2020)

What Kapil Mishra did after the Delhi riots, which claimed so many lives and made the everyday lives of Muslims completely vulnerable? To put it in the words of The Indian Express (March 1, 2020):

“Days after the Delhi High Court frowned upon a speech made by him in Northeast Delhi, seen as one of the triggers for the riots that left 42 dead, BJP leader Kapil Mishra took out a march metres from the Capital’s VIP areas on Saturday (February 29) where calls were made to shoot traitors.

“Mishra’s ‘peace march’, including roughly 1,200 people, began from Jantar Mantar and proceeded to make its way to Connaught Place and Janpath... amid slogans of ‘Kisi ko mat maaf karo, jihaadiyon ko saaf karo’ (Don’t spare anyone, wipe out jihadis) and ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko’ (Shoot the traitors). It was flanked by security personnel.”

It should be mentioned in this connection that a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice Talwant Singh directed the Delhi Police on February 26, 2020, to take a decision within a day regarding registration of FIR for inflammatory speeches against some BJP politicians, including Kapil Mishra, who had allegedly incited violence in Delhi. On the same night, the Centre notified the transfer of Justice Muralidhar from Delhi High Court to Punjab and Haryana High Court. (See

Reportedly, armed Hindu mobs targeted Muslim neighbourhoods across northeast Delhi, almost all of which belong to assembly constituencies which were won by the BJP in the recently held assembly elections in Delhi. (See

India’s plural identity as a civilisation has been turned upside down by the happenings in Delhi.

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