Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “the limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat.” That’s exactly what we can make up of the violence that stormed the north-east Delhi for 3 consecutive days, starting a day ahead of US President Donald Trump’s first official visit to India.
There are three basic theories that can explain what triggered a vicious ‘war’ between the two communities (as it is being showcased by the media).
1. Anti-CAA Protests- The foundation of the violence was laid almost 3 months back, when a huge group, mainly comprised of the Muslim community, decided to ‘revolt’ against what they termed an unconstitutional and anti-Muslim law, the Citizenship Amendment Act. While several incidents of violence took place in parts of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, the authorities were able to curb the impact, thanks to the strictness of the government. But the continuous efforts by a lobby that misinterpreted a law or tried to peddle their fake narrative, instilling ‘fear’ in the minds of a minority, a major outburst was inevitable. Post-Uttar Pradesh violence, the situation was under control until a video emerged featuring a man named Sharjeel Imam calling for cutting Assam from rest of India. That was it. The right-wing or the common people of the country were able to recognise the whole ant-CAA movement, courtesy the highly irresponsible statements of the wannabe poster boys of the movement, who clearly had little or no knowledge about the Citizenship Bill passed in the parliament. If it was not enough, the constant demand to release Sharjeel Imam post his arrest added fuel to the fire and the movement swayed away from its core demands. This brought a paradigm shift after almost 90 days of resistance.
- Delhi Elections- As the saying goes, “Politics is the art of controlling your environment”, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party refrained from maintaining a firm stance on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the second most powerful party, the BJP tried to reap the fruits of AAP’s silence by staying firm with its decision on the CAA and refusing to bend a bid before a movement that unapologetically tried to keep the national capital and its entities hostage until its ‘unrealistic’ demands were fulfilled. At least that’s what we can deduce from how the majority in this country saw the movement. While the flames were yet timid, the Congress decided to hop on to the opportunity to ground its strongest opponent, the BJP, even if it meant a face-palm defeat for themselves in the Delhi Elections. Shashi Tharoor went to lend his support to the protestors while Manishankar Aiyar visited Shaheen Bagh, the epicentre of the anti-CAA protests shortly after his visit to Pakistan, that was obviously under-reported. The BJP on the other hand, refused to yield and visit Shaheen Bagh to hear the demands of the protestors. The intelligence, in the meanwhile, reported the hand of some anti-India forces like PFI, alleging that it financially supported the movement in a persistent effort to trigger a civil war in India. But as is the nature of Indian intelligence agencies, with limited spilling of facts about the matter, the mainstream media returned to cover the political aspects of the matter after beating the bush for a few days. And the core points were spewt under the carpet.
- Inflammatory Speeches- While the fire that burnt Delhi for almost 3 days has been doused, many claim that inflammatory speeches did the maximum harm to the peace in the national capital. In a bid to earn big in the Delhi elections and win the support of one side amid the protests, several leaders went overboard while addressing rallies. With Manishankar Aiyar swearing-in at PM Modi during an address at Shaheen Bagh to Aam Aadmi Party Candidate Amanatullah Khan calling the protest ‘Shariya or Zariya’, the situation continued to grow tense. As Aam Aadmi Party returned to power, AIMIM candidate sparked a row with his 15 crore versus 100 crore remark where he was apparently calling it a war between Hindus and Muslims. It all remained calm for a few days until US President Donald Trump arrived in India. On the day of Trump’s arrival, another Shaheen Bagh like protest was staged at Jaffrabad after which BJP leader Kapil Mishra took to the roads and asked the Police to clear the roads warning them that he would take the matter into his own hands after Trump’s departure if the police fail to clear the Jaffrabad. Hours after Mishra’s speech, reports of scuffles emerged from several parts of the North-East Delhi. The situation soon went out of hands. The police forces were outnumbered and were constantly attacked with stones by a Muslim mob. It led to an equally violent retaliation from the other side that started to protest in support of the CAA. However, who started the violence is a matter of investigation. The violence soon spread over other parts of the northeast Delhi and the police could only do a little about it. No matter whose speech was more inflammatory, opting for violence on the basis of the statements by a few leaders raises some serious questions about the sanity of the public.
- The impact of the violence:
Anyone who has read the history of communal riots or violence in India will claim that this was the most violent clash in the past three decades in the national capital. 49 lives were lost in the violence that was triggered after a scuffle between 2 groups. As the investigation started, the brutality of the crimes committed during the violence was unearthed.
Senior Constable was shot dead by unidentified assailants while another ACP’s car was set ablaze who had a narrow escape. However, the biggest proof of the brutality was the gruesome murder of Intelligence Bureau officer Ankit Sharma whose body was fished out from a drain near AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, the accused in the murder. The autopsy report of Sharma revealed that he was stabbed 12 times, hit brutally with rods for almost 4 hours. Several videos surfaced on the internet in which hundreds of rioters could be seen using Tahir Hussain’s house as the centre for violence from where stones were hurled using catapults and policemen were attacked using acid bags and petrol bombs. After the seizure of Hussain’s home, one more body was found in the amputated and burnt state. While the matter is still under investigation, it will be only naive to say that only anti-CAA protests were at the backdrop of the violence. A total of 106 people have been arrested so far while several country-made pistols and other weapons have bee seized. The violence remains to be a blot on Delhi and our society.