Amit Shah tells political parties to help restore peace
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has requested all political parties to form so-called peace committees in various neighbourhoods in North-east Delhi, comprising their representatives and local community leaders to control the violence.
He also asked them to work with Delhi Police to restore order and quell rumours.
Both requests were made during a high-level meeting chaired by Shah and attended by the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal, members of various political parties, and senior bureaucrats and police officers. As many as 13 people were killed in communal clashes in North-east Delhi.
Shah cancelled his visit to Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, although it wasn’t immediately clear whether he was staying back to oversee the capital’s return to normalcy. The home ministry did not immediately ascribe a reason for the change in his schedule.
During the meeting, the home minister asked all “political parties to avoid provocative speeches and statements,” the Union Home Ministry said in a statement. He lso wrote the family of Rattan Lal – the Delhi Police Head Constable who was killed when deployed Maujpur, one of the affected areas – expressing his grief and offering his condolences. In his letter to family, the Home Minister described Rattan Lal as a “courageous” and “dedicated” officer.
Shah’s meeting with representatives of political parties, senior bureaucrats, and police officers including Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik was the second in 24 hours. On Monday night, he held a late-night meeting after returning from the Namaste Trump event at Ahmedabad. Shah advanced his return to Delhi from Ahmedabad after reports of rioting and arson reached him. “The home minister was to reach Delhi late yesterday night; however, he flew out hours ahead of the scheduled departure reaching Delhi by evening,” a senior home ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
The riots in Delhi, which started off as clashes between pro- and anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors, came at an inconvenient time for the Centre -- during US President Donald Trump’s inaugural state visit to India.
The borders of Delhi with the states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have also been under surveillance for the last three days and Delhi Police has been taking adequate steps, the home ministry said in a statement.
Shah also noted that “the Delhi Police” was a professional organization and “adequately empowered to decide on the amount of force needed to diffuse tension where necessary,” the ministry’s statement added.
Although initial assessments indicated that Delhi Police was outnumbered by the rioters, Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik denied that there was a shortage of manpower leading to the riots spiralling out of control. “We have enough manpower and total support of the government,” he told news agency ANI. .
“The home minister assured that Delhi Police will be deployed in full strength. It appears earlier that police deployment was less but we were assured it will be adequate, “ Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told reporters after the meeting. “Army may be deployed if needed but at present police taking action, “ he said when asked whether calling in the Indian Army to quell the violence was considered
“We have all agreed to rise above politics and ensure the situation is brought under control,” Manoj Tiwari Delhi BJP chief who attended the meeting told reporters after the meeting.
Senior Delhi Congress Subash Chopra who attended the meeting said “inflammatory statements by political figures triggered the violence. These need to stop if the situation is to be controlled. “
Chopra was referring to statements by Delhi BJP leader Kapil Mishra.