Prime Minister Narendra Modi needed 3 days to break silence on Delhi violence, clock ticks on Amit Shah
I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times: Modi
- Published 27.02.20, 2:28 AM
- Updated 27.02.20, 2:28 AM
- 2 mins read
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday appealed for “peace and brotherhood”, breaking his silence on the Delhi riots after three days of uncontrolled violence and nearly two dozen deaths and after Congress president Sonia Gandhi had demanded that home minister Amit Shah step down.
“Had an extensive review on the situation prevailing in various parts of Delhi. Police and other agencies are working on the ground to ensure peace and normalcy,” Modi said in one of his tweets.
“Peace and harmony are central to our ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times,” he added.
Minutes before Modi’s 1.52pm tweet, Sonia had addressed a media conference where she squarely blamed the central government for the “colossal failure of duty… particularly the home minister” and called for his immediate resignation.
The government fielded information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to launch a political attack on the Congress chief, but the man in charge of law and order in the capital continued to maintain public silence.
Home minister Shah — whose department controls Delhi police — had held a review meeting in his office on Tuesday, but there was no public statement from him on Wednesday, apart from a tweet in the morning to hail
Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar on his death anniversary and a re-tweet of Modi’s tweet.
Rather, it was a bureaucrat — national security adviser Ajit Doval — who appeared to play the role of an elected representative, visiting riot-affected areas including Jaffrabad, meeting people from different communities and appealing for peace.
The BJP’s information technology head, Amit Malviya, continued to project the riots as a one-sided violence, a planned attack on Hindus. In a tweet on Tuesday Malviya had described the riots as a “violent Islamic onslaught”. On Wednesday he tweeted on the murder of Intelligence Bureau staffer Ankit Sharma. “IB official Ankit Sharma was killed and his body thrown in a drain in Chandbagh. Systematically targeting security personnel, killing them in cold blood is an act of war on the state,” he said.
Malviya also posted a video of a Hindu home being vandalised and wrote, “Is this protest against CAA or a war against Hindus? #DelhiViolence”, although properties of both communities have been targeted.
Another senior BJP-RSS leader, B.L. Santosh, national general secretary (organisation), too had put out divisive tweets on Tuesday. “Jaffrabad Metro protest area totally cleared. The game starts now. The rioters need to be taught a lesson or two of Indian laws,” he had tweeted. He had later deleted and reposted the tweet, replacing the words “the game starts now” with “time to enforce law in its entire spirit”.
It was against this backdrop that ministers Javadekar and Prasad targeted Sonia, accusing her of trying to politicise the violence.
Javadekar referred to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and said those whose hands were “tainted with the blood of innocent Sikhs” were now talking about checking violence.
Prasad dubbed Sonia’s comments unfortunate and said the “need of the hour is for everybody to talk about restoring peace”.
Javadekar defended Shah, saying: “The home minister is continuously working with the police, raising their morale and giving directions from wherever he is.”
Asked about BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s provocative speech that Delhi High Court has taken cognisance of, Javadekar said a police probe would bring out the truth about who had “incited” the mobs.
Mishra remained defiant. “Clearing roads is our right. Didn’t violate any law. I have followed my ‘dharma’. Truth and ‘dharm’ will win,” he tweeted after the court’s ruling.