By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2020-02-25 08:38:04
The violence between anti and pro-CAA supporters was waiting to happen in Delhi ever since a highly divisive election campaign by the BJP during the recent elections in the NCR had virtually turned it into an "India-Pakistan match". That the provocative statements from the BJP leaders, especially Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Anurag Thakur, did not result in violence then was as much a tribute to the peaceful nature of the protests against the CAA as to the fact that no one wanted to give the government an excuse to postpone the polls. It also proved that lumpens had not entered the fray till then.
But that is no longer the case. In Delhi's north-eastern area, localities like Jaffrabad. Maujpur, Chandbag, Bhajanpura and Gokulpuri have witnessed sporadic to intense violence with stone-pelting, torching of vehicles and pitched battles between the two sides and even with the police. There was also an incident of a man pointing a gun to the face of an unarmed policeman. The man has been identified as one Shahrukh and has been detained. Seven people, including a policeman, have been killed till now. The Shahdara DCP is in hospital and is now stable and out of immediate danger. Section 144 has been imposed in north-east Delhi for one month. The pro-CAA brigade was always under musclemen and was yearning for a fight. But the eruption of violence means that away from Shaheen Bagh, the anti-CAA brigade has now also been taken over by hotheads who are not averse to the use of violence to make their point and to give a 'fitting' reply to the extreme provocation by the other side.
And why is this happening? Simply because while the BJP is busy organizing support for the CAA, all other parties, including the AAP which got a massive mandate from the people of Delhi recently, have abdicated their duty to be among the people to prevent such a thing from happening. Politicians should have known that it needs just a small spark to light the communal fire. Since the Shaheen Bagh protest has been peaceful and dignified, as are most other protests across the country, there was an urgent need to keep a watch over the situation, both by the political parties and elders in both communities, to ensure that things did not go out of hand.
As for the BJP, it has the democratic right to work for pro-CAA mobilization. Since the government has taken the stand that it will not back off and implement the CAA, it will obviously try to drum up support for the Act. But that does not mean that the supporters will vilify the protestors by calling them "traitors" or "Pakistanis" instead of the government making an effort to address their fears and concerns over the troika of CAA, NPR and NRC. It is a strategy that is neither helpful in winning elections, as Amit Shah admitted in respect of the Delhi debacle, nor is it good for communal harmony. If the government says that the violence has been "orchestrated" to happen just before US President Donald Trump's visit, should it not have taken care that people like Kapil Mishra did not go about their vilifying campaign endlessly? Such excuses will not hold water. As the ruling party and the one that has law and order in Delhi under its portfolio, the BJP has additional responsibilities. It should work to defuse the tensions and bring normalcy in Delhi.