The death toll has risen to 37 in the deadliest violence in the Indian capital New Delhi, the worst religious violence in decades with police accused of partisanship. More than 300 others have been grievously injured in three days of violence over the country’s new citizenship law – seen by many as discriminatory against Muslims. The carnage started on the same day US President Donald Trump kicked off his two-day trip to India. The violent clashes that broke out between pro- and anti-CAA groups in the aftermath of the tensions in the areas of North East District, particularly in the areas of Chand Bagh, Maujpur, Jaffrabad, Mustafabad, Noor Allahi, Shivpuri, Kardampuri, and Dayalpur on Sunday.
It begins with stone-pelting from both sides, now it has turned out to be pogrom against Muslims. A large contingent of the Delhi Police, the CRPF and other reserved forces have been dispatched to Majpur from Jaffrabad to quell the riots but they have by and large failed to do so. Local Muslims are constantly accusing them of taking sides with Hindus, also abetting them against Muslims with impunity. Numerous videos circulating in social media show the 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 and set them on fire. Visuals of Muslims being attacked; markets, houses set on fire are coming in. The state functionaries are shamelessly lending their support to the RSS terrorists. The country is witnessing another genocide of Muslims.
Complete failure of Police And Amit Shah in quelling Riots
Delhi police have proved themselves woefully inadequate at best, and outrageously partisan in responding to the situation. Are we enough foolish to believe that forces are outnumbered in Delhi? Forces are outnumbered or not enough forces being sent? It has been 3 days since the National Capital is under siege. 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 ever before. Police are not responding to emergency calls from Muslims. Lawyers are unable to reach out because mobs have surrounded the area as Delhi is burning and goons are on the rampage. The Delhi Police is an equal participant in violence against Muslims. The Prime Minister and Chief Minister of Delhi are mere silent spectators.
Indian Muslims are being killed in the streets of Delhi in scenes resembling the violence witnessed in Gujarat (2002), Mumbai (1992) & Delhi (1984).
Dozens have died & hundreds injured.
Let’s be clear: These aren’t “clashes”. This violence has been whipped up by Modi & the BJP.
— Zarah Sultana MP (@zarahsultana) February 26, 2020
Achievements of Amit Shah as Home minister in the first 7 months are: firstly, Kashmir crisis; secondly Protests in Assam; thirdly, the ruthless beating of students in Jawaharlal and Jamia universities; fourthly, nationwide protest against new citizenship law; fifthly, deadly violence in Delhi. Speeches of Home Minister Amit Shah during the recent election campaign in Delhi 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, as seen in videos. Trucks full of stones, weapons and men were mobilized for the attack by the right-wing. All of this is happening in front of the Delhi police. While just a few hours ago, Chandbagh protest site has been brutally lathi-charged by Delhi police, where you can see 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 is not 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 its peaceful, democratic nature.
A 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. 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.
Arvind Kejriwal has failed to address these dire and horrific situations. 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.
Shaheen Bagh: Epicenter of protests
Shaheen Bagh has been a hotbed of continuous non-violent and peaceful protest. It is a 24/7 sit-in peaceful protest. It is led by women which commenced in reaction and response passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in both houses of Parliament on 11 December 2019. They are also angered by the 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
Local social activist Mariya Salim said in her Facebook post that there is substantial information that the road-block at Seelampur was planned by the Pinjra Tod group, a feminist group of elite brahman-savarna liberal. It appears to be a concerted plan to sabotage the Supreme Court hearing on Shaheen Bagh on Monday, 24 Feb. Pinjra Tod understands how this Muslim neighborhood can become a convenient target of state-sponsored violence. The Court’s directions on Monday would be crucial for the continuance of the protests.
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 peddle hatred against Muslims, the largest minority group at 14 percent of the country’s population. Media persons are calling Muslim anti-national and terrorist on live television. Media channels act like spokesperson of the ruling establishment, spreading divisive and hatred policies, disseminating misinformation and venomous and poisonous propaganda against Indian Muslims.
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 normalizing the hate crimes, riots against the Muslims as well as legitimizing 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.
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 brutally attacked on 15th December 2019, the whole nation stood with us. Today, at least 37 people have died, but our 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 an abrupt event it is rather the result of the violence we have accumulated in our hearts over the years fueled by religious extremism, government, misinformation, fragile egos and superiority and devoid of humanity and decency.
The writer, Irshad Ayub, is an editor at Millat Times. He is also a Delhi-based freelance journalist.