The Lok Sabha began discussing last month’s violence in Delhi on Wednesday, with the Congress claiming that “humanity was defeated” in the riots and launching a sharp attack on Union Home Minister Amit Shah, The Indian Express reported. In response, the Bharatiya Janata Party claimed it had contained the violence within 36 hours.
The violence in North East Delhi, which took place between February 23 and February 26, killed at least 53 people and injured over 200.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the government, especially Shah, had to answer how violence continued for three days, ANI reported. “The fact is, humanity was defeated,” he said. Chowdhury wondered where Shah was during the violence. He criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi too and said he was busy hosting the United States President Donald Trump at the time when the clashes were going on in Delhi.
“Nero fiddled while Rome burned,” the Congress leader said, likening the prime minister to former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
Responding to the Congress’ charge, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Meenakshi Lekhi said it was not party leader Kapil Mishra or the Delhi Police that were inciting violence as claimed by the Opposition. She blamed those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act for the violence.
“Bombs were thrown from the building of Aam Aadmi Party leader Tahir Hussain,” she said, according to The Indian Express. “Bricks have been hurled at people. Acid was used to attack people. These people are protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Why are they protesting? Because this government had the courage to grant citizenship to some minorities...People have been inciting violence for a long time, you are now blaming Kapil Mishra and Delhi Police for it?”
Lekhi defended BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma who have been blamed for making provocative remarks in January, ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections. “Thakur and Verma made comments on January 20 and January 28 respectively, while the violence started on February 23,” Lekhi said. “Kapil Mishra was held responsible for acts of [AAP leader] Amanatullah Khan, [Jawaharlal Nehru University student] Sharjeel Imam and Tahir Hussain. I have data which shows who was responsible whenever violence incidents took place in country.”
Lekhi blamed the Popular Front of India for the violence, and claimed Muslims hurled acid and petrol bombs. Speaker Om Birla asked Lekhi not to mention religion or caste in her remarks.
“Do you expect home minister to be present at the place of riots when it is happening?” Lekhi asked. “He convened an immediate meeting with the police and security officials from 7 pm to 1 am. He also met NSA [National Security Advisor] Ajit Doval, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, BJP Delhi President Manoj Tiwari among others and appealed everyone to ensure peace. BJP controlled the violence in 36 hours.”
Trinamool Congress MP Sougata Roy claimed Lekhi’s speech was hate speech, The Hindu reported. Calling her a devil’s advocate, Roy repeated party chief Mamata Banerjee’s line that the riots were a “planned genocide”.
“We haven’t forgotten Naroda Patiya,” he said, referring to a neighbourhood which saw many killings during the 2002 Gujarat riots. “I feel bad standing face to face with Amit Shah. You [Shah] are still young. Acknowledge your failure and seek remedy, otherwise you will remain as the man who could not control riots barely 10 km from your home.”
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP TR Baalu said government ministers should meet the victims of the Delhi violence. He also called for a judicial inquiry into the riots, and compensation for the families of the deceased. Baalu said that the Jafrabad violence started the day after Kapil Mishra gave an ultimatum to the police to clear the anti-CAA protestors.
Bahujan Samaj Party MP Ritesh Pandey alleged that there was an economic loss of Rs 25,000 crore in the riots.
Expulsion of Congress MPs
Earlier in the day, proceedings in both Houses of the Parliament were disrupted as Opposition leaders in the Lok Sabha protested against the expulsion of seven MPs last week, and members in the Rajya Sabha raised the matter of communal violence in Delhi, reported PTI.
As soon as the Lok Sabha assembled, Kirit Solanki, who was presiding over the session, began the day with Question Hour even as Opposition members shouted slogans. However, Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and Left MPs crowded the Well of the House, demanding the expulsion order be rescinded.
On March 5, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had suspended seven Congress MPs from attending Lok Sabha for the rest of the Budget Session for disrupting the House. Gaurav Gogoi, TN Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, R Unnithan, Manickam Tagore, Benny Behnan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla were suspended on charges of gross misconduct.
The Lok Sabha was initially adjourned till 12.30 pm and later till 1.30 pm. An all-party meeting, chaired by Birla, took place later in Parliament to discuss the smooth functioning of the Lower House, reported ANI.
Meanwhile, responding to a question in the Lower House, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said the Centre will follow the Supreme Court’s order on providing permanent commission to women in the Indian Army, according to PTI.
Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day
On Wednesday morning, several members of Opposition parties submitted Suspension of Business notices, and called for discussions on last month’s communal violence in Delhi, and the Centre’s ban on two Malayalam channels for its alleged biased reporting on it. However, after a few Congress leaders pushed for discussions on Delhi violence, the House was adjourned till 2 pm.
Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma gave the notices, citing the need to provide relief to those affected by the violence, and called for an independent inquiry commission. The Trinamool Congress also submitted a similar notice. Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP KK Ragesh’s notice claimed the Centre was trying to suppress media in reference to the ban on the news channels.
Some Congress parliamentarians raised the ongoing political crisis in Madhya Pradesh precipitated by Jyotiraditya Scindia’s exit from the party. At least 22 MLAs, including six state ministers, resigned from the Madhya Pradesh Assembly after Scindia quit.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said the notice given by the Leader of the Opposition and other members of the House over the need to provide relief to those affected due to violence in Delhi will be taken up on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, Opposition leaders jeered at Union minister Anurag Thakur, who had made instigating speeches ahead of Delhi elections last month, when he attempted to present a listed paper, reported PTI. Thakur was also mocked when he tried to speak in the House on March 3.
After the House reconvened at 2 pm, the government and the Opposition agreed to a discussion on the Delhi violence on Thursday, PTI reported. The Opposition had demanded a discussion on Wednesday itself. The House witnessed three adjournments while the two groups squabbled over the matter.
The Rajya Sabha met again at 3.40 pm and Deputy Chairman Harivansh asked Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi to make a statement. “As agreed in the meeting in the deputy chairperson’s chamber, the two ordinances would be discussed tomorrow at 11 am,” Joshi responded. “Thereafter, there would be a discussion on Delhi violence in the House.”
The two ordinances are the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 and the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad then asked Harivansh to adjourn the House for the day. The deputy chairperson agreed and adjourned the Rajya Sabha till 11 am on Thursday.