Former Vice-President Hamid Ansari asked on Saturday why Article 355 of the Constitution, which makes it a duty of the Centre to protect a state from internal disturbance, was not invoked to quell the 2002 Gujarat riots although the defence minister was present there.
Speaking at the launch of the book The Sarkari Mussalman by Lt Gen. (retd) Zameer Uddin Shah, who had led the army division that subdued the riots, Ansari also said there were “no military solutions to insurgency” as normality could be restored only by winning the hearts and minds of people.
“The initial reaction of the civil administration (to the riots) was tardy; curfew had been ordered but not enforced; no attempt was made to convene peace committees and attitude of police was partisan’,” Ansari quoted from the book.
He noted that the book was silent “on the role of the political leadership”.
“If the civil and police administration fail to respond to a massive failure of law and order, where does the responsibility rest in a democratic and parliamentary system?” Ansari asked.
“Why was Article 355 of the Constitution that makes it a duty of the Union to protect a state against internal disturbance not invoked even when the Centre had the benefit of the raksha mantri on the spot?” he asked.