The death toll has risen to 27, might still grow, an earshot away from the nerve centre of the government of India in the Indian capital New Delhi, hit by the worst religious violence in decades with police accused of partisanship. More than 200 others have been grievously injured in three days of violence over the country’s new citizenship law – seen by many as discriminatory against Muslims, it started on the same day US President Donald Trump kicked off his two-day trip to India. The violence clashes that broke out between pro- and anti-CAA groups in the aftermath of the tension that escalated in the areas of North East District, particularly in the areas of Chand9 Bagh, Maujpur, Jaffrabad, Mustafabad, Noor Allahi, Shivpuri, Kardampuri, and Dayalpur on Sunday, resulting in stone-pelting from both sides now turned out to be pogrom against Muslim. A large contingent of the Delhi Police, the CRPF and other reserved force has been dispatched to Majpur from Jaffrabad to quell the riots but they are by and large failed to do so, local Muslim are constantly accusing them of taking side with Hindu, also abetting them against Muslim with impunity. Numerous videos circulating in social media are seen that right-wing goons (RSS extremists) appear to have been given a free run, Police have shamelessly backed the RSS goons to attack the houses of Muslims, set them on fire. Visuals of Muslims being attacked, markets, houses set on fire coming in. The state machineries are shamelessly, evidently lending their support to the RSS terrorists. The country is witnessing another genocide of Muslims.
Complete Failure of Police And Amit Shah In Clampdown on Rioters
Delhi police have proved themselves woefully inadequate at best and outrageously partisan and communal at worst, in responding to the situation. Are we enough foolishness to believe that forces are outnumbered in Delhi? Forces are outnumbered or not enough forces being sent? It has been 3 days. This is the National Capital. If the Home Minister really wants, can he not stop violence for 3 days? This country has not seen such an incompetent Home Minister than Amit Shah. Police are not responsive to emergency calls from them. Lawyers are unable to reach out because mobs have surrounded the area. Delhi is burning. Goons are on a rampage. The Delhi Police is an equal participant. The Prime Minister and Chief Minister of Delhi are mere silent spectators.
Achievements of Amit Shah as Home minister in the first 7 months -1. Kashmir crisis 2. Protest in Assam 3. Ruthlessly beating of students in JNU and Jamia 4. Nationwide protest against new citizenship law 5. Deadly violence in Delhi. Speeches of Home Minister Amit Shah during the recent Assembly election campaign in Delhi was clearly meant to encourage communal polarisation.
It is a well-planned pogrom where Hindu households are marked with saffron flags for rioters to know that these houses aren’t supposed to be attacked, videos have started coming from small streets of this part of Delhi. Trucks full of stones, weapons and men were mobilised for this organised attack by the right-wing. It is happening in front of Delhi police. Chandbagh protest site had been brutally lathi-charged by Delhi police, you can see in video police walking hand in hands with the rioters. Another video is widely circulating in social media in which an unidentified man dressed in a red shirt can be seen brandishing his country-made pistol towards an unarmed Delhi Police officer on the Jaffrabad-Maujpur road. It is reported that he fired 8 rounds before the police overpowered him. RSS goons are torching Delhi with impunity. Markets are set on fire. Journalists are attacked. people are killed. Religious places are desecrated and ransacked. Thousands are scared of what to expect in the night. But the lapdog media isn’t showing what it must it is busy showing Trump-Modi hugs and holding hands. It is shameful that when parts of the national capital are burning, the gaze of the government and the corporate media is fixed on diverting the issue to the visit of Trump. When our city is burning, when President Donald Trump praised India for maintaining it’s peaceful, democratic nature. He said India’s rise is all the more inspiring…because you have done it as a democratic, peaceful, tolerant, free country.
Colossal Failure of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal
Delhi Police used water cannon to disperse the students of Jamia Millia Islamia, DU, and JNU who had gathered outside the residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. They were demanding a discussion over the riots of northeast Delhi in which 23 people including head constable have been killed so far in Delhi and restoration of normalcy and peace. Four protesters went to meet CM Kejriwal but his guard let them not meet CM. The call was given by Alumni of Jamia Millia Islamia and Jamia Coordination Committee to demonstrate outside Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence. People have gathered here demanding action against communal riots and seeking restoration of peace. 39 protesters were detained from CM house, lodged at Civil lines police station where they were brutally beaten up by police.
Arvind Kejriwal is failed to address these dire and horrific situations. Even though he has a tremendous ground force in Delhi and they can form “Peace Committees” across all parts of Delhi which can be led by their elected MLAs, but he is busy in blame game, not doing so. This will help reducing violence and clashes in areas affected by communal riots.
Shaheen Bagh: Epicenter of protests
Shaheen Bagh has been a hotbed of continuous sit-in non-violent protest. It is a 24/7 sit-in peaceful protest, led by women which commenced in reaction and response passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in both houses of Parliament on 11 December 2019 and the ensuing police intervention against students at Jamia Millia Islamia who were opposing the Amendment. Protesters have agitated not only against the citizenship issues of the CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), but also against police brutality, rising costs of commodities, increasing unemployment and poverty, and for women’s safety. It has become the longest ongoing continuous protest against CAA-NRC-NPR. The protesters have been camping out continuously across the length and breadth of India for the last two months
Alleged Involvement Of Pinjra Tod Feminist Group for instigating Muslim women
Local social activist Mariya Salim said in her Facebook post that there is a substantial information that the road-block plan at Seelampur where goons went on rampage and spree killing by Pinjra Tod group, a feminist group of elite brahman-savarna liberal, appears to be concerted plan to sabotage the Supreme Court hearing on Shaheen Bagh on Monday, 24 Feb. Pinjra Tod made multiple attempts even before to block the road in Seelampur and failed because of the intervention of locals who historically understand how this Muslim neighborhood can become a convenient target of state-sponsored violence. However, they ultimately succeeded the night before in blocking the road to the appreciation of civil society. Ovais Sultan Khan, human rights activist and numerous other locals made attempts to rationalize keeping the protests within the enclosure that eventually turned out unpersuasive. This is a completely suicidal plan. The Court while recognizing the right to protest and the right to space for protest, had opposed to blocking of public roads. When attempts are being made to resolve the situation at Shaheen Bagh amicably, to compound the problem with more road-blocks would be totally counterproductive. If news of more road-blocks comes to the notice of the Supreme Court, the Court would come down heavily against all such plans. The Court’s directions on Monday would be crucial for the continuance of the protests. Let nothing be done that may adversely impact the outcome of that verdict on Monday.
Media’s role in mainstreaming the pogrom
Indian media is known for stoking ultra-nationalist and jingoistic feelings among Indians. Primetime television in India has become a platform to promote hatred against Muslims persistently or widely, 14 percent of India’s population is Muslim, the largest minority group, calling Muslim anti-national and terrorist on live television. Media channel acts like a spokesperson of the ruling establishment, spreading divisive and hatred policies, disseminating misinformation and venomous and poisonous propaganda against Indian Muslims. Hate crimes have spiked since Mr. Modi took office in 2014. Media is trying to legitimise the very barbaric nature of Sanghi goons, by labelling them ‘ Pro CAA protesters’. They can repeatedly declare a student as ‘ stone pelter ‘ based on the blur image of a wallet. But despite the fact that RSS goons are involved in open hooliganism, rioting, mob lynching, they are just ‘ pro CAA protestors’ according to media, not rioters, goons, saffron terrorists.
An organized attack on Muslim localities and peaceful protest gatherings is being termed as ‘ Clash between pro CAA and anti CAA protesters. The very terminology used by elite media houses is normalising the hate crimes, riots against the Muslims as well as legitimising the violence of right-wing goons. How can a mob attacking the specific community, termed as ‘ Protesters’? This pogrom is a culmination of hate which is spread by media since Modi won the first term in 2014.
Are sections of the media are complicit in promoting majoritarian hatred? Normally during communal clashes, the media is not supposed to give out the names of victims and attackers. Here right on page one of the largest English daily is the photograph and name of a Muslim attacker. A Hindu police officer killed is also named. But 4 other dead and many other injured are not named.
Rahul Gandhi, ex-president of main opposition party Congress described the incidence of mayhem and chaos in Delhi as disturbing. In a tweet, he said that “The violence today in Delhi is disturbing & must be unequivocally condemned. Peaceful protests are a sign of a healthy democracy, but violence can never be justified. I urge the citizens of Delhi to show restraint, compassion & understanding no matter what the provocation. Nobody should be allowed to orchestrate flagrations”. Section 144 imposed in northeast districts, Delhi Police said they are making every effort to restore normalcy. “Section 144 has been imposed in the affected areas of North East district and strict action will be taken against miscreants and anti-social elements.”
In the face of this fascist attack, civil society must come together and register voices against the Hindutva brigade and the hatred spread by RSS/BJP-Police nexus. When Jamia Millia Islamia was attacked brutally on 15th December 2019, the whole nation stood with us. But at least 23 people have died, and their voices remain unheard. Even after more than 72hrs of terror and fear, there is no relief. Other areas are also feared to be attacked.
We need mainstream media coverage to pressurize the police to act. Delhi violence is not abrupt but is the result of the violence we have accumulated in our hearts over the years fuelled by religious extremism, government, agenda, misinformation, fragile egos and superiority and devoid of humanity and decency. India will have to mobilise in full force to resist this brutalisation. Otherwise our republic will become what our rulers want it to be: A charnel house of rotted moralities, a nation that measures itself by the cruelties it can inflict.
Md Irshad Ayub, English Editor at Millat Times and Delhi-based Freelance Journalist.