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Why it is important to get to the bottom of Delhi’s violence – editorials


Northeast Delhi was free of incidents on Thursday, as people picked up the pieces of their lives and livelihoods after the worst community violence that Delhi has seen in at least three decades. While it would be too much to expect political parties not to politicize the issue (narratives and counter-narratives are already at stake), it is imperative that the Ministry of Interior, the National Security Advisor (whose entry seems to have played an important role in the normalization situation), the Delhi police, other law enforcement agencies and the state government work together to answer key questions that could shed light on what happened.

Since the pro and anti-citizenship (amendment) groups of the Law (CAA) whose confrontation caused the communal disturbances were extremely well organized: the pro group was transported from neighboring states, according to one theory; and both seem to be well armed: some of these questions have to do with the identity of the individuals and organizations behind the protests, and the source of funding and weapons. Did local leaders of political parties participate? As a corollary, it is also important to arrive at the underlying motives. Was the reason, as some believe, to embarrass the government of Narendra Modi during the visit of the president of the United States, Donald Trump? If so, who was behind the effort? Or was it to vitiate the situation in the national capital? And who could benefit from that?

There are also other questions. For example, about the role of hate speech in inciting riots. While this may not have ignited the spark, did it, for example, heat things up to the point that a fire was inevitable? Or about the role of unresolved and open protests against the CAA (with protesters standing firm, the interior ministry is not interested in participating, the courts, postponing both the broader issue of the law and the smaller one of a protest in Shaheen Bagh on a public highway)? Some difficult questions should also be asked about the gaps in the intelligence gathering and risk assessment processes of the police, and their almost glacial pace of response to initial skirmishes. After all, it is becoming clear that a better and faster response on Saturday, when the fighting began, may have avoided the events of Monday and Tuesday, which recorded the highest number of victims. Many of these are difficult questions. Some are inconvenient. But we owe it to the 37 dead as of Thursday night (in both Hindus and Muslims), the hundreds injured and the thousands whose livelihoods have been affected by asking them, and then, sincerely trying to answer them.

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