After much uproar, the Lok Sabha debated Delhi riots today where, following the opposition targeting the government, Union Home Minister Amit Shah responded to the issues raised by the opposition. In the midst of the reply, Congress MPs walked out of the House.
Shah said that the government would take action against arsonists, confiscating their properties for reparation of the damages — taking a cue from the BJP’s own Yogi Adityanath government that had earlier inspired another government of the party, that in Karnataka.
Shah said, “There has been an attempt to add political colour to the Delhi riots. My heart goes out to the families of those who lost their lives. I would like to express my condolences to the families of those killed.”
“There are some things that I do not want to talk about in today’s discussion, but the way the unfortunate incidents were presented (in Sansad), I would like to clarify certain things,” Shah said. “Somebody said Delhi Police had pelted stones to drive the rioters away. More than 5,000 tear gas shells were released, they said. Police took recourse to lathi-charge, they said. The police’s priority was to suppress the riots in an area that is densely populated,” the home minister said.
“No one likes a riot. But I believe this happened under a well-thought-out conspiracy. Police are investigating the case. Those who have killed during the Delhi riots will not be spared, I assure you,” Shah said.
Hitting the opposition back, the home minister said, “76% of killings in riots in the history of India happened under Congress (INC) rule. We have punished the accused of the 1984 riots.”
Shah underscored the barbarity of some of the criminal acts during the riots, reminding the house that “400 wounds were inflicted upon (IB security assistant) Ankit Sharma’s body“. He said it was a sorry state of affairs that Asaduddin Owaisi did not speak of this gruesome murder.
The home minister informed the house that 52 Indians had died in the Delhi riots. “Both temples and mosques were burnt and 526 Indian citizens were injured,” he said.
“People who damaged properties during the riots will have to pay. For this, we have sought a judge from the high court,” Shah said.
The home minister said he had information that money had been transferred to rioters for the Delhi violence. “A leader said it was about Rs 15 crore. They spread panic through social media. We are investigating this,” he said.
The minister highlighted the ‘coincidence’ that a rally of the INC takes place on 14 December at Ramlila Maidan; “people are asked to move out of their houses and take the fight outside the house. The strike of Shaheen Bagh starts from 16 December”.
“Before 24 February, rallies in support of the amended citizenship law (CAA) turned out to be more than just the opposition to the CAA. It is incorrect to say that the rallies that supported the law led to the riot,” Shah said.
On the issue of making CAA on the basis of religion, the home minister said, “Muslim personal law is a law based on religion. Many laws in the country are based on religion.”
“Ever since the House passed the CAA bill, there have been attempts to mislead the youth. No one gets citizenship from the CAA just like that. There is a provision of giving citizenship to the victims,” Shah explained.
The home minister said that the government is investigating the whole riot on scientific grounds. “No innocent will be harassed,” he assured. At the same time, “three people who financed the Delhi riots have been arrested. No one will escape the guilty”, he said.
“How short a time it took for the riots to spark off in Delhi points at a conspiracy. We are also exploring this,” Shah said, adding, “We have held more than 600 peace committee meetings of people of all religions.” As many as “1,100 people have been identified through face recognition software. They have been arrested. The Narendra Modi government will not save any culprit”, the home minister said.
Shah told the Lok Sabha that from the night of 24 February, the Uttar Pradesh border was sealed. “FIRs have been filed against people of both communities” and “video footage will capture Ankit Sharma’s killers”, said Shah.
“More than 700 FIRs have been registered since 27 February till date. Owaisi was saying that the government had problems with the people of one religion alone. It’s not like that. CCTV footage is under investigation. We have sought footage from the media. The people of Delhi have sent thousands of videos,” the minister said.
In view of the Delhi violence, more than 80 companies had been sent to the affected areas. The process of capturing the culprits has been started with promptness. “On my advice, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited the spot,” Shah said, adding, “I have been meeting with Delhi Police officers after coming from Gujarat. I did not attend the event held in the honour of US President (Donald Trump as a result),” he said.
Delhi Police brought the riots under control in 36 hours, the home minister said. “There was no violence after 25 February,” he asserted.
On the question raised on the police, Shah said that the first task of the police was not to let the violence spread. “The police stopped the rioters. I thank them for this,” the minister said.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the INC asked why this discussion was delayed. Shah replied, “There has not been a single incident of riot after 25 February. The demand for the debate was made after two dates and I had said that it would be discussed after Holi as riots could have erupted in some different places again during Holi. The police also needed some time to reach the bottom of it.”