- Important that normalcy is restored at the earliest: PM Modi tweeted
- Stone-throwing, arson marked unrelenting violence over citizenship law
- CBSE board exams have been postponed in the affected areas
Reports of arson emerged from northeast Delhi’s Bhajanpura this evening, hours after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited violence-affected areas of the national capital to offer personal guarantees that the government would restore peace. At least 27 have died and over 200 have been injured after four straight days of clashes over the citizenship law. Amid the unprecedented violence, over which the Delhi High Court today issued a sharp reprimand to Delhi Police, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his first public statement, calling for “peace and brotherhood”. Home Minister Amit Shah, under fire for failure to control the violence, has held multiple review meetings. Delhi Police has filed 18 FIRs and arrested 106 people in connection with the violence, which they say is now under control.
Here are the top 10 updates we know so far on northeast Delhi violence:
A furious Delhi High Court has urged police to file FIRs against those making hateful and inflammatory speeches. The court’s observation came after speeches made by four BJP leaders, including Union Minister Anurag Thakur and local leader Kapil Mishra (whose rally in northeast Delhi on Sunday afternoon has been accused of inciting violence), were played in open court, prompting Justice S Muralidhar to assert “the court would not allow another 1984 scenario“. Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik has been given till Thursday to review videos of the speeches and take a “conscious decision”.
NSA Ajit Doval, who has been tasked with restoring law and order in the national capital, made a second visit to violence-hit areas this evening. Mr Doval, who walked with a convoy of police officials in Jafrabad, one of the worst-hit areas, told reporters: “Inshallah, there will be peace here“. Shortly before that he was confronted by a young girl who made an emotional appeal for help. “I give you my word,” he told her. The decision to rope in Mr Doval has raised eyebrows given Delhi Police reports to Amit Shah.
PM Modi, making his first official statement since violence erupted on Sunday, said he had held “an extensive review of the situation (and) police and other agencies are working to ensure peace and normalcy”. Calling for calm, he tweeted: “Peace and harmony are central to our ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers to maintain peace and brotherhood. It is important that calm and normalcy is restored at the earliest.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also issued a call for peace today. Addressing the Assembly, Mr Kejriwal said neither Hindus nor Muslims would benefit from the violence and said: “Delhi now has two options: Either people can come together and help make the situation better or they can hit and kill one another”. Demanding the Army be called in – something the Home Ministry has so far refused to do – the Chief Minister held outsiders and political elements responsible for the violence.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi launched a broadside at Amit Shah, demanding he take responsibility and resign. Mrs Gandhi also took aim at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, accusing both governments of not taking adequate steps to control the situation when it broke on Sunday. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, also hit out at the BJP, describing its silence on hate speeches by its leaders as “shameful”. South superstar Rajinikanth also lashed out, describing the violence as a result of “intelligence failure”.
Fresh violence was reported this morning with incidents of arson and stone throwing taking place. A battery shop was set on fire in Bhajanpura; the shop was vandalised and burnt batteries were strewn on the road, according to news agency PTI. A flag march was conducted there and in the Khajuri Khas area. Large gatherings in northeast Delhi continue to be banned under Section 144, but appear to have little effect. Police have refused to confirm the issue of “shoot on sight” orders.
Among the deaths reported today was that of Ankit Sharma, an Intelligence Bureau official whose body was found stuffed in a drain in Jafrabad. Mr Sharma worked as a Security Assistant. He was allegedly attacked by a mob at Chand Bagh Bridge and beaten to death. After his body was recovered his father, Ravinder Sharma, who is also an IB employee, accused supporters of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party of killing his son.
Amid the bloodshed and the tragedy, stories of brotherhood and people of different communities and religions standing against the hate has lifted spirits. Midway between Jafrabad and Maujpur, one mohalla has emerged as a relative haven of peace.
The violence, which has left several neighbourhoods looking like war zones, also led to the postponement of CBSE board exams for a second straight day. Five exams – two for Class X and three for Class XII – had been deferred yesterday after appeals by students.
Government sources say the violence has been “orchestrated”, as it came at a time when US President Donald Trump was visiting the country. Asked for his reaction to the violence, Mr Trump said it was “up to India” to deal with it”. However, he did say the United States appreciated PM Modi’s efforts to ensure religious freedom in India.
With input from PTI