Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Delhi killings: Can communal violence, orchestrated riots, anti-Muslim pogroms ever be stopped in India?

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Delhi is in flames--nearly 20 persons have been killed, hundreds injured, settlements burnt and mob marches on the streets shouting slogans.

It all happened in Delhi, when the security was high, Donald Trump was visiting, yet, police failed to stop the rioters. The photographs and videos of youths taking pride in the attacks, arson and killings, are all over social media.

But this is just one in the series of such communal killings India has witnessed for decades. Delhi is the national capital, hence, we see more images. But the total failure of political class, the lack of will on part of opposition leaders and role of police show how law-and-order crumbled and this is the story of every riot in India.

Indian Express report on the front page on February 26,2020, had the headline ''Mob, courtesy Delhi police". It said, 'Right under the police nose, men with rods, sticks assault, set homes ablaze, check ID cards, smash CCTVs..."

The question once again stares us in the face: Can such killings, violence ever stop in India?

We often see how cops choose not to act, remains mute spectators or there are allegations how they side with mobs. One of the most important factors it the lack of Muslims and other minority communities in the police. The share of minorities in police is barely 5%.

If there are 12-15% Muslims in Delhi, but you don't have even 2% in Delhi police, it is a clear lack of representation of the society. *When riots are engineered or mobs are out on streets, its impact is visible, most clearly.

There are videos of attacks on mosques and madarsas, people forced to take off pants, journalists allowed to go when it was found that they were from the majority community. But many would still make false equivalence, justify. They will use one example or two to claim that it was not a pogrom or mass killings that had the nod of the authorities, rather, a clash.

When you work in a society or serve it, you have to be representative of the society, at least, there should be some attempt to act fair, appear fair. If not 12%, at least get 5-6% minorities! But no, there is no discussion on the subject, in fact, the figures are no longer made public. May be less than 2% now in Delhi

In reports of numerous commissions on communal killings, role of police has been criticised. When even in national capital, people have to approach High Court to get police to let ambulances carry victims, you see how deep is the rot. Nothing will work until police is inclusive.

Police is the arm of the State on the ground--the most visible and potent symbol of power on the street. You want to keep it as such, reform is not the intention, never, no government is keen on in. Besides, narrative is created in such a fashion that if there were no police, then majority would have been in trouble!

Further, there is no accountability, action. Political class has no interest in stopping killings, it helps them. After every riot, the politician who made hate speeches or got accused of orchestrating the riot, gains in stature--that's the irony of India.

Communal riots continue because politicians benefit, role of society as well

When riots begin, there is always the call to bring Army. This is because army is seen as more neutral and that its arrival does scare the rioter who can't take all the liberty, which otherwise he gets.

But, the Army is never called timely because public posturing apart, leaders too come from the same society & many of them want to 'teach lesson to other community'--basically the same inherent violent streak in our society where riots, bloodbath is not an aberration.

Violence is just a 'tamasha' (sic) in this society, it doesn't really bother or upset masses. For politicians, it helps them achieve the status of a masculine big leader. Publicly everyone won't say it but message goes--'this leader can bring them on their knees'. That's reality.

It was after the killings during Rath Yatra that LK Advani became 'the leader'. It was after 2002 that Modi conquered hearts of the majority. And earlier SS supremo too got respect for this reason. So that's the tried and tested formula in our politics.

What can be worse in a society when you know the politicians are aware of the benefits of killings--Count bodies, conquer hearts! And why should any politician one bother about law-and-order! For riots, politicians don't go to jails in India, our judiciary is known for letting these cases continue for decades.

No jail terms, it's perfect system. Riots, killings ensure rewards. 24 people were shot dead dead in UP only recently. Large sections of society felt it was the 'tough message' that was needed and as the monk's rule was giving competition in hardline Hindutva, the competitor had to strike back andshow he can get it done in national capital.

The figure of deaths, the scale of violence. All this could have been stopped much earlier but no one bothered. BJP leaders' role well-known. Aam Aadmi Party did nothing. And, Congress leaders! Nothing. All are responsible for this bloodbath.

Shouldn't Opposition leaders have reached President House last night, sat in front of it when Delhi was burning? This is a question even committed voters of these parties and supporters are asking. In the worlds biggest democracy, no system works and nothing could save Delhi. Innocents perished, property destroyed and dreams died.

[Photo: Front page of Indian Express]
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LINK: Percentage of Muslims in Police in States