Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday claimed in the Lok Sabha that last month’s violence in Delhi was a “well-planned conspiracy”, and lauded the Delhi Police for containing it “within 36 hours”. Shah was speaking in the House while replying to a discussion under Rule 193.
Shah denied the Opposition’s claims that the police had sided with those indulging in violence. Police had to throw stones in some instances to deter mobs, he claimed. More than 5,000 tear gas shells and 400 bullets were fired by police during the violence, the home minister said.
Shah said that around 60 accounts on social media were started on February 22 and closed on February 26, ANI reported. “Do they think they would get away by closing such accounts?” he asked. “The police will find them out.”
Shah claimed several people crossed from Uttar Pradesh to incite riots, which showed it was a “well-planned conspiracy”. He said that one of the first actions the police took was to seal the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border at 10 pm on February 24. He said it was not possible for the violence to reach such a scale without a conspiracy.
Shah alleged that a “certain party” held an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act rally at Ramlila Maidan on December 14, in which its president asked people to leave their homes and fight a do-or-die battle. “After that, one of their senior leaders said that if you do not exit your homes now, you will be called cowards,” he added. “Is this not hate speech?”
Replying to criticism that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was meeting United States President Donald Trump while the violence raged in Delhi, Shah told the Lok Sabha that though Trump’s programme was in his constituency in Ahmedabad and his visit there was scheduled already, he did not attend any event the following day. “The whole time I was sitting with Delhi Police officials,” Shah said. He added that he only asked National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to visit the affected areas.
Shah paid homage to those killed in the violence and assured their families that the perpetrators would be caught and punished irrespective of religion or political affiliation. The government will not spare any individual involved in the riots, and no innocent will be harassed, he said.
“We wanted discussion on Delhi violence after Holi to avoid communal flare up during festival time,” Shah claimed.
Shah alleged that a WhatsApp group called “United Against Hate” was created on February 17 and some leaders delivered inflammatory speeches on February 19, which led to protests that “culminated into riots”. He blamed “vested interests” for inciting and misleading minorities. He said such groups had indulged in “fear mongering” that the Citizenship Amendment Act would take away their citizenship.
Shah claimed that the first incident of violence took place at 2 pm on February 24 and “not a single incident” took place after 11 pm the next day. He appreciated the Delhi Police for containing the violence within 36 hours, and for limiting it to “4% area and 13% population of Delhi”.
The home minister said the violence spread fast because of the high population density of the areas. Narrow lanes prevented effective timely intervention by police and ambulances, he said.
Shah said more than 25 computers were analysing CCTV footage to identify the perpetrators and police had appealed to the public to share more footage. He said more than 1,100 people had been identified and 40 teams had been formed to arrest them. Two special investigation teams were looking into the violence, he said.
Investigators are looking into alleged hawala transactions and have arrested three persons who allegedly financed the violence, Shah said. Shah told the Lok Sabha that 52 people had been killed and 526 injured in the violence. Also, 371 shops and 142 houses had been destroyed, he said. Shah said over 700 cases, including 49 under the Arms Act, had been filed and 2,647 people have been detained or arrested.
“People should not look for religion in riots,” Shah said. “I want to tell everyone that 52 Indians lost their lives, 526 were injured and 142 houses were burnt.” Perhaps referring to attacks on mosques, Shah said that no places of worship, of any religion, should be destroyed.
The home minister said that the CAA had been passed in both Houses of Parliament following the procedures of democracy, but the Opposition misled the people by telling them that this would take away the citizenship of minorities. “Tell me which clause in this Act takes away anyone’s citizenship?” Shah asked.
The Congress had earlier in the day lashed out at Shah in the Lok Sabha, wondering where he was when the violence began. “The fact is, humanity was defeated,” Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said. “Nero fiddled while Rome burned,” the Congress leader said, likening Modi to former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
The Rajya Sabha will discuss the violence in Delhi on Thursday afternoon. The Delhi Police had said on Sunday that they had filed over 700 cases and detained or arrested nearly 2,400 people in connection with the violence in North East Delhi district.