Delhi violence: Govt and opposition parties indulge in verbal duel, death toll rises to 27
New Delhi: A fierce war of words broke out between the government and opposition parties over the incidents of violence in the northeast Delhi with the Congress accusing the government of "colossal failure of duty" and demanding Home Minister Amit Shah's resignation, a demand termed as "laughable" by the BJP which charged Congress president Sonia Gandhi with playing "dirty politics" on the issue.
As unease prevailed in the violence-battered localities of the northeast Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for peace and brotherhood, and said he has held an extensive review of the situation in various parts of the national capital.
Stressing that peace and harmony are "central to our ethos", Modi tweeted,”it is important that there is calm and normalcy is restored at the earliest. "
At least 22 people have been killed in communal violence in northeast Delhi since Sunday, triggered after clashes between pro and anti-CAA protestors over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
While the Congress held a meeting of its working committee on the Delhi situation and passed a resolution, urging the people to "reject the politics of hate and do their best in healing the rifts caused by these shameful events", CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury described Delhi violence a "chilling reminder" of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
"After reviewing the situation, the CWC is of the firm opinion that what has happened in Delhi is a colossal failure of duty for which the entire responsibility must be borne by the Central Government and particularly the Home Minister and (the CWC) calls upon the Home Minister to tender his resignation immediately," Gandhi said while reading out the CWC resolution.
Hitting back, Union minister and senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said Gandhi is politicising the violence at a time when violent incidents are abating and investigation is on to find out culprits.
"At such a time, attacking the government and politicising violence is a dirty politics," he said at a press conference and added that it also demoralises police.
Taking a swipe at the Congress, he said those whose hands are "tainted with the bloods of innocent Sikhs" are now talking about checking violence, a reference to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Gandhi's statement was full of politics and dubbed it "unfortunate and irresponsible".
"The need of the hour is for everybody to talk about restoring peace. The home minister had called a meeting of all parties. Enquiry will find out the culprits," he said.
Javadekar said all parties should cooperate and work for peace at a time when violence is abating.
The information and broadcasting minister said Shah was continuously working with the police to control the situation in the national capital and demanding his resignation was "laughable".
Meanwhile, police conducted flag marches and security personnel spread out across the violence-hit localities to quell the unrest.
Later, the Congress leaders, including general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra took out a ‘peace march' from party office to the Gandhi Smriti on the Tees January Marg.
Attacking the government, Yechury at a joint press conference with CPI general secretary D Raja, alleged that it was clear that the violence in Delhi has the sanction of police and that of the "powers that govern them".
"Violence in Delhi is a chilling reminder of the communal genocide in Gujarat in 2002 when the current prime minister was the state chief minister," said Yechury.
Both Raja and Yechury questioned the role of Home Minister Shah in dealing with the violence and blamed him for not being able to contain the situation.
Opposition leaders including Akhilesh Yadav, Sharad Yadav along with Yechury and Raja have sought time from President Ram Nath Kovind to discuss the Delhi violence.
Yechury has written a letter to the President seeking appointment for the group of leaders which also include members of the DMK and the NCP.
Senior AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Gopal Rai urged the Centre to deploy the Army in the violence-hit northeast Delhi to bring the situation under control and and asked why the borders areas were not sealed despite repeated requests by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Claiming that the AAP government is doing everything it can to bring the situation under control, Singh said Shah cannot hold meetings just for "formality", in an apparent reference to Tuesday's meeting Shah had with Delhi Lt. Governor Anil Baijal, Kejriwal and senior police officials.
"Wake up Home Minister, you are calling meetings just as a formality and what are your party members doing. They are inciting violence. Just taking meetings as a formality is not going to solve anything," he said.
Singh alleged that on one hand, Shah was holding meetings and on the other hand, BJP leaders were making provocative statements.
He said the situation in the national capital is "terrifying" and all this is happening in Delhi, where the law and order situation is completely under the Centre.
Reacting strongly, the NCP alleged that some kind of "2002 Gujarat model" is unfolding in Delhi.
NCP national spokesperson and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik also accused the Delhi police of being silent spectators when the violence broke out.
"There is violence in the capital city... Police have become a silent spectator. Why are these things happening in the capital city? There's some kind of 2002 Gujarat model in Delhi," Malik tweeted, apparently referring to the communal riots which broke in the western state 18 years ago.
In Chennai, superstar Rajinikanth lashed out at the central government, saying the riots should have been dealt with an iron fist.
The actor also opined that protests should not turn violent and recalled his earlier statement that he will stand by Muslims if they were affected by the amended citizenship law.
"Definitely it is Central government's intelligence failure. I strongly condemn the Central government," he told reporters. Urging the central government to take immediate steps to restore normalcy in the national capital, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also expressed concern over the "attack" on journalists covering the riots and alleged that the rule of law has collapsed there.
"There is an active campaign of hatred going on. Even the journalists are attacked. The death toll is on the rise. It's a matter of concern that the BJP leader, who has made hate speech and instigated the riots, is going scot free," Vijayan said in a release.