Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who has come under severe criticism for the government’s response to the Delhi riots which have claimed 42 lives till now, finally broke his silence when he addressed a public meeting in Odisha on Friday.
Shah spoke about the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the riots, but don’t get your hopes up. Instead of appealing for peace or comforting the victims, the home minister instead accused opposition parties of spreading misinformation and inciting riots.
“Opposition parties are spreading misinformation that Muslims will lose their Indian citizenship because of the CAA. They are instigating people and fomenting riots,” he said.
“Congress, Mamata didi (Banerjee), SP, BSP, all of them are opposing the CAA. They say it will take away citizenship of minorities. Why do you lie so much?”
While the violence was initially thought to have begun as clashes between those who were for and against the CAA, reports from the ground soon made it clear that there was large-scale communal violence.
HuffPost India’s Betwa Sharma reported on Thursday on the religious polarisation that led to the burning of at least three mosques.
Shah’s statement comes a day after Congress leaders met President Ram Nath Kovind and called for Shah’s resignation for “abdication of duty” during the Delhi violence.
The Delhi Police, which reports to the Home Ministry, has been accused of doing little to control the violence. IPS officer Vibhuti Narain Rai, who investigated the Hashimpura massacre, told HuffPost India that the Narendra Modi government has politicised and demoralised the Delhi Police. He said it seems like all the decisions of the Delhi Police are being taken by the Home Minister, not the Police Commissioner.
Instead of Shah, who is responsible for maintaining the law and order in the national capital, it was NSA Ajit Doval who visited the violence-hit areas on Wednesday.
Shah’s statements are, however, in line with how other Modi government ministers have responded to the violence. On Wednesday, hours after Sonia Gandhi held a rare press conference, where she condemned the government’s response, two Union ministers addressed the media in quick succession. Both seemed more interested in attacking the Congress and Gandhi rather than discussing the riots.
Modi himself was wining and dining with US President Donald Trump as the riots were at their peak. He finally tweeted an appeal for peace on Wednesday, Day 3 of the riots, after Trump left the country.