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

NSA managing Delhi on behalf of Narendra Modi

Monday 9 March 2020

by Arun Srivastava

This article was sent sometime ago but could not be used earlier due to space constraints.

Some people are trying to provide a cover to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, by putting the blame for the mayhem that rocked Delhi for four days and claimed the lives of nearly 45 innocent people on some unknown persons and forces. It is nothing but a deft strategic move to protect the powerful persons who have master-minded the genocide.

Some people are attributing the pogrom to the difference between Modi and Amit Shah. Little doubt it is reminiscent of what had happened in Gujarat in 2002. A closer look at the ghastly incidents that shook Delhi for four days would reveal that it had all the ingredients of the Gujarat massacre. In Gujarat the police had paralysed the administration. The same thing happened in Delhi. The people have been accusing the Commissioner of Delhi Police of being insensitive and conniving with the mercenaries; the worst was the attitude and approach of the Home Minister Amit Shah, on whom Modi relies most.

Both of them did not show up to the suffering citizens. It was fed to the people that the Home Minister was immensely concerned of the situation and was busy throughout the three days holding meetings and giving directives to the police, but the poor citizens did not feel any impact of his initiatives and moves on the ground.

He has been the yes man of Modi. In fact in the BJP circles he is described as the Laxman of Modi Ram. Though in politics crooked moves are not uncommon, but it does not appear that their camaraderie has deteriorated to such an extent that Shah will conspire against him to defame.

Questions are also being raised: was it an attempt to disgrace the government during the visit of US President Donald Trump? Obviously this question was absurd. How could Amit Shah commit such a mistake? Modi believes him more than himself.

The question also arises as to how Modi was unaware of such a dirty game? But one thing is absolutely clear: only a person having firm control on the government machinery and apparatus can indulge in such a nasty game. The police has shirked off its responsibility, it has adopted a completely passive approach. In most of the places the police had helped and led the mercenaries in attacking the Muslim houses and shops.

If somebody other than a powerful person having a firm grip on the administration had carried out this operation, then it raises serious questions on the efficacy of the governance and functioning of the Home Minister. One cannot believe that any person can evade the eyes of Amit Shah. He is the modern Uncle Sam.

It is said that the communal riots in the thickly populated northeast Delhi, which commenced on the eve of US President Donald Trump’s two-day visit to India, stopped suddenly almost coinciding with Trump and First Lady Melania leaving India. This is a matter that ought to be thoroughly probed.

Modi has rightly entrusted the task of going deep down into the reasons of the pogrom and assuage the feeings of the victims to the NSA, Ajit Doval, but this throws open a lot of questions. With Amit Shah as the Home Minister what made Modi to seek the help of Doval for this comparatively small incident? Does this imply that the mayhem was not an isolated case but was related to the bigger spectrum of national security? Doval entering into the picture frame ought to be taken seriously.

Besides, speculations are also rife that Doval may be entrusted with more important tasks. It is pointed out that the violent incidents stopped not through any effort or action of Home Minister but the moment Ajit Doval started visiting the riot-prone areas and interacting with the police officers. Yet another reason for deputing Doval to tackle a Hindu-Muslim riot was because Shah with his anti-Muslim image could not have moved around freely in the riot-affected areas, reaching out to Muslims.

His interaction with the victims also provided an insight into his thinking process. At no stage did he try to provide cover to the Delhi Police or the government. He simply portrayed his trust and assured the people that everything would be right. His gesture made it abundantly clear that the Home Ministry and Delhi Police have miserably failed in their duties. What was quite significant was the Commissioner of Delhi Police did not accompany him to any area. Maybe Doval might not have asked the latter to join him but on the bigger plane this clearly manifests that the government was censoring him for his failure to act.

The nature of the mayhem simply endorses the common apprehension that a huge number of goons and mercenaries were brought to Delhi to teach a lesson to the people holding anti-CAA meetings and rallies. One ought to seriously look at the threat of the BJP leader, Kapil Mishra. His warning to the police officer in full public view makes it explicit that preparations
were being made for sometime and it
coincided with Trump’s visit simply for providing the colour of national concern and security.

This level of mass action with police com-plicity, one is sure, could not have carried on in the national Capital without patronage of top echelons of the national power structure. True enough shifting of the High Court judge Justice S. Murlidharan ought to be seen and visualised in this background. The manner in which he handled the case made it clear that most of the people involved in it would be feeling vulnerable and scared. His shifting has come as a big relief. While FIR has been issued to an AAP corporator, the government has been given four weeks’ time to take action against the leaders who were involved in hate speech, on the plea that any such action creates problems.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi tweeted: “The midnight transfer of Justice S. Muralidharan isn’t shocking given the current dispensation, but it is certainly sad and shameful.” In fact it was nothing but an attempt to “muzzle” justice and “break people’s faith in the judiciary”. The judge had expressed “anguish” over the Delhi Police’s failure to register FIRs against alleged hate speeches by three BJP leaders.

One thing is also remarkable. During three days of Trump’s sojourn, while other union Ministers were visible, Amit Shah was not seen anywhere. Delhi Police having a strength of 90,000 personnel had failed to control the violence. Everyone was seeking to know “Where is the Delhi Police Commissioner? He did not visit the affected areas since the violence broke out on Sunday night. Why was it allowed to simmer for four days and then the NSA sent to control law and order?” it was asked on the condition of anonymity.

Doval, in Jaffrabad as part of a confidence-building effort, walked with a posse of police officers. He interacted with residents, enquired about their problems and tried to pacify them by saying that law-abiding citizens did not need to fear anyone. His presence in the neighbourhood appeared to inspire confidence among community members and some of them shouted in unison “Ajit Doval zindabad.” He said: “The situation is under control. Insha Allah, there will be peace.”

It is worth noting that the violence in Delhi has largely been concentrated in areas that the BJP managed to win in the recent Assembly elections on the back of a vicious and polarising campaign led by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Five of the eight seats the BJP won in the 70-member Assembly fall in northeast Delhi where rioting took place.

On January 27, it was from Baburpur that Shah had urged voters to press the EVM button with such “anger” that the “current” was felt at Shaheen Bagh, the venue of the longest women-led vigil against the new citizenship tripod. Baburpur is now one of the riot-hit areas in northeast Delhi.

The Prime Minister’s reiteration that “peace and harmony are central to our ethos” does not appear to hold ground as his government and particularly his handpicked Home Minister, Amit Shah, behaved like Nero while Delhi burnt for three days and around 22 persons were brutally murdered by the mercenaries.

No doubt Modi was busy hosting his friend POTUS, while Delhi burnt; but one sincerely expects that he must have had detailed information of the mayhem that was going on in Delhi. Obviously how could he not take out sometime and review the situation that prevailed in the country’s Capital? Will his words of solace to maintain “calm and normalcy” heal the deep wounds that have been inflicted by the Hindutva goons?

The reports emanating from Delhi from the first day of the mercenary dance makes it explicit that it was part of a bigger conspiracy and enacted in a precise manner by those goons.

Even if one accepts that Modi did not find time as he was busy with his friend Trump, what was the second man of his two-man army, Amt Shah, doing? The manner in which the police maintained passive silence and approach towards the pogrom, it clearly provides insight that the marauders had the blessings of the top politicians. Look at the way Kapil Mishra, the turncoat BJP leader, descends on the scene just a day ahead of the riot and warns the senior police officer in presence of thousands of people to take revenge if the protestors are not removed from the street. The police officer was a mute spectator. How to interpret his denial of action? It obviously implied that the police officer was under instructions not to act.

A closer evaluation of the police’s role in Delhi in the wake of the protest against the CAA reveals that the police has been nursing a hatred against the Muslims. Their attack on the Jamia students hiding in the library and also blocking roads around Shaheen Bagh points to their radicalisation. The Delhi Police under the Modi Government has turned highly communalised. Rioters ran amok on streets, burning and looting shops, pelting stones and thrashing people in the troubled areas of northeast Delhi.

In fact the confessional statements and narratives of the victims of the Delhi violence make it explicit that while goons carried out their operation the police preferred to be a mute spectator. The top officials even did not respond to the panic calls from the newsmen. They looked the other way while the marauders killed the innocent people. Amit Shah must be feeling happy and delighted at his Hindu troops asserting its arms and muscle power.

Naturally in this backdrop it is a tough proposition to accept Modi’s assurance that “an extensive review on the situation prevailing in various parts of Delhi was taking place and police and other agencies were working on the ground to ensure peace and normalcy”. How can the people trust the police which have been escorting the killers and goons? How far would his appeal to “sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times” have the desired result?

What is really interesting to note is that his appeal came much after the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court expressed their disappointment over the functioning of the Delhi Police. While the Supreme Court blamed the police for “lack of professionalism”, the Delhi High Court said it was appalled by the state of affairs of the Delhi Police.

The most important question that is making the rounds of social and political circle has been; why the police did not enforce curfew on the first day when four persons including the police head constable were killed? A look at the macabre violence and killings makes it clear that the Delhi Police has expertised the Gujarat model of policing. The intensity of the crisis could be gauged from the simple fact that NSA Ajit Doval was given the charge to oversee Delhi Police’s efforts to maintain peace in the area.

On her part the Congress chief, Sonia Gandhi, was correct to hold Home Minister Amit Shah responsible for the violence in Delhi and seek his resignation. She said: “The Centre and the Union Home Minister are responsible for the present situation in Delhi. The Union Home Minister should resign.” But she cannot evade the responsibility of allowing the BJP leaders to endanger the lives of the people and put them to ransom. True enough like a student the Congress has been raising its hands to register its presence and nothing more. Had it been working like a responsible Opposition the BJP leaders could not have dared to indulge in ghastly murderous acts. Her observation: “There is a conspiracy behind the violence. The country saw this during the Delhi elections as well. Many BJP leaders made inciting comments creating an atmosphere of fear and hatred”, has some iota of truth and the party must force the government to launch a through probe.

It is really sad that some BJP leaders have been desperately trying to communalise the protest against the citizenship law. The apprehension that the situation may turn violent was expressed just after the Supreme Court refused to hear the case and posted it to be heard at a later date. The violence over the amended citizenship law in northeast Delhi has claimed nearly 22 people and none can guarantee that it will not claim more lives.

With Shaheen Bagh continuing to hold ground, the BJP marauders may try to resort to violence here too. Despite heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces, the situation continues to be tense. Now that the case of Shaheen Bagh is before the Supreme Court the people can rightly hope that the Apex Court should take up the issue of CAA and NRC and protect the country from becoming a victim of communal violence. The presumption that the situation would calm down has proved to be wrong. Only an effective legal intervention can save the country from being ravaged by the mercenaries.

What is happening in the country on the plea of preserving the sovereignty and integrity of India is beyond comprehension. The way the mandarins of North and South Blocks have been executing the orders and administering the country makes it clear that they are out to circumvent the constitutional provisions and shatter the democratic institutions simply for serving the personal interest of their political masters.

They have been treating the people in the same manner as they treated them during the infamous Emergency days. But there is one difference; in those days the victim was clearly visible; now in the present scenario it is not clear who is the victim or likely to become the next victim.

Every people is suspect in the eyes of the rulers and ruling elite. While the mandarins have been ruining the basics of a civilised society and the lives of the people of the country in lieu of getting some benefits from the rulers, the worst perpetrators have been the police establishment. They are ruthless and willing to go to any extent to carry out the orders of their masters.

The police had maligned the British rule as Gora Raj, the Congress Government post-independence as Congress Raj. Now they are out to give a bad name Hindu Raj to the rule of the Narendra Modi Government. The police is the most dreaded organisation in the country. Their raiding the Jamia library and beating the students brutally is an example of their whimsical functioning. The later revelations make it amply clear that they are not willing to follow the rules of governance and constitutional provisions.

In this backdrop it is worth referring the case of Shaheen Bagh. Once the Modi Government passed the CAA and the Home Minister announced that NRC would be implemented, the people, comprising mostly women, resorted to Satyagraha to force the Modi Government to roll back the Act. While no BJP leader worth the name came to listen to their complaints during the last 70 days of the Shaheen Bagh movement the police resorted to all kind of machinations to give it a bad name and malign the prestige and image of the participants.

An impression was created among the people that Muslim women were resorting to blocking of roads for staging dharna against the citizenship initiative of the government. The fact has been the protest has a high degree of Hindu presence and support.

Ever since the Shaheen Bagh satyagraha begun, demands were being made by pro-RSS and BJP elements to clear the road by removing the protesters from the site. The police always played tricks. An impression was created that the protesters were forcibly occupying the space and roads. Had the Supreme Court not sent the team of interlocutors the conspiracy might not have been exposed.

Former chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities Wajahat Habibullah, who has been the member of the team of interlocutors, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court had pointed out, “There are numerous number of roads that have no connection with the protest that have been barricaded by the police unnecessarily, abdicating their responsibilities and duties and wrongly laying the blame on the protesters.”

It is a matter of shame that protesters were blamed by the rulers of creating lawlessness. The political importance of continuation of the Shaheen Bagh agitation could be understood from the statement of the Home Minister itself. Most of senior BJP leaders had alleged that they were supporters of Pakistan.

Habibullah, who was part of interlocutors along with Sadhana Ramachandran and Sanjay Hegde and went to Shaheen Bagh on February 19, said in a signed affidavit that “there are numerous number of roads that have no connection with the protest that have been barricaded by the police unnecessarily, abdicating their responsibilities and duties and wrongly laying the blame on the protest”.

His affidavit obviously underlines that it was a deliberate attempt to give a bad name to the protest and promote the implementation of CAA and NRC. He has rightly sought to know the names of those responsible for taking such a call. He will submit the affidavit before the Apex Court on February 24 when the Court takes up the matter for hearing.

The affidavit also urges, “It would be in the fitness of things if the police are asked to reveal names of the persons who were responsible for the decision to block all other parallel and arterial roads in the area and UP, instead of carrying out their duty of regulating the traffic.” One obviously would expect the Supreme Court to expose the conspiracy and bring the culprits to book.

It is worth mentioning that the petitioners, one of whom has been a local BJP leader and another a lawyer, have approached the SC with the grievance that the people have been facing difficulties on account of protesters occupying a road in Shaheen Bagh. It is surprising that no government official questioned the police as Hahibullah has done.

It is not for the first time that protesters are holding Satyagraha on open roads. This has been the internationally accepted norm. People hold dharna, demonstration and Satyagraha on roads. In fact the grandmothers leading the protest have been sending request messages to Modi and Shah to come and listen to their grievances. The usual practice has been the government sends a junior Minister representing the PM or sends one or two senior officials to listen to the grievances of the protesters. But in this case the mandarins did not budge. Their reluctance and apathy ought to be probed. What made them to act in this manner?

These mandarins and the police have developed the interesting habit of implicating anyone who dares to speak against the rulers. A couple of days back a girl was arrested in Bengaluru and the charge of sedition was slapped for raising the slogan “Pakistan Zindabad” and also “Bharat Zindabad”. However this has been severely criticised and described as a wrong move by the former Supreme Court judge, Justice B. Sudershan Reddy

The former judge said neither Section 124A (the sedition law), much less any other criminal provision, would apply if a citizen chanted “Pakistan Zindabad” since India was neither at war with Pakistan nor had it been declared an enemy country. The judge said the use of the sedition charge against a student in Karnataka for shouting a slogan is a “clear abuse of the law of sedition”, adding that the time has come for the judiciary to step in on its own to counter the trend. He said “no penal provision is attracted against her for shouting whatever she did. Not only sedition, no criminal law provision appears in her case.” Justice Reddy wondered if it was all right for citizens to raise slogans like “America Zindabad” or “Donald Trump Zindabad”.

Justice Reddy said: “The most important part of the story is that Pakistan has not been declared as an enemy state.... We are not at war with Pakistan. Diplomatic relations continue with Pakistan....”. The mandarins must refrain from such acts and instead of harassing the poor people should ensure a pro-people governance.

The author is a senior journalist and can be contacted at sriv52[at]gmail.com

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