Detain those who spew hatred, see effect

Ghughuti Bulletin

Julio Ribeiro

When the Prime Minister speaks, people listen. There are citizens who have begun doubting his words, but his Hindutva followers know exactly what he means and when he means business. By putting Ajit Doval, the NSA, in charge of restoring order in Delhi, the Prime Minister has clearly conveyed his intent.

Narendra Modi did not discourage lynching of Muslim cattle-traders for a long time after the assaults first started! But when he did speak up, lynchings stopped mysteriously, and also fortunately disappeared from the front pages!

It does not take long to stop communal riots. You do not need the Army for this, as Arvind Kejriwal seemed to suggest. The Army is trained to take on external enemies, not internal ones, who are our misguided people. The police is trained to take on rioters but has been found wanting. The reason for the failure is that the political class does not tell the Army how to fight, but in the case of the police, it is inclined to dictate, if not direct, police responses as it did in Gujarat in 2002.

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The professionalism of Delhi Police has been questioned by the judges of the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court. I am glad they did it because the Police Commissioner can now speak out, as he should on such occasions, but this time Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister, will have to listen. The problem is that the police in Delhi, as in the rest of the country, to a larger extent (as in UP) or a lesser extent (as in Maharashtra), has learnt to go by the wishes of the party in power rather than what it is required to do by the law of the land.

You cannot really blame the Delhi Police if it has been politicised, especially so when it is Amit Shah who they report to. Having my contacts in the senior ranks of Gujarat Police after a brief stint as its chief three decades ago, I know how dangerous it is for a straight-forward police officer to oppose Shah’s diktats unless he is made of superior stuff, a rare occurrence today!

That the judges have stepped in to do what the government and the executive should have done long ago was necessary, perhaps in the present scenario, but is dangerous from the point of view of separation of powers, spelt out in the Constitution! Personally, I feel the judges should confine themselves to forcing the hand of the politician in depoliticising the police forces across India, as the Supreme Court had itself ordered 20-odd years ago in its Prakash Singh judgment. The Supreme Court’s orders have been very cleverly flouted by all parties forming governments at the Centre and in the states.

What is required to control communal conflagrations is well known to the police officers. You lock up all the instigators and mischief-makers from both communities in one swoop and the electric shock produced settles the issue! I have personally tried this in Mumbai in 1984 and in Ahmedabad in 1985 and succeeded instantly. The trick is to assure political support for your action. And that may be difficult in Delhi today where the leaders of the party in power are the primary candidates for incarceration.

Will Amit Shah allow his Cabinet colleague, Anurag Thakur, or Kapil Mishra to be locked up? I doubt it. But unless that is done, the shock treatment to treat this communal type of madness will not be available.

On the Muslim side, my experience in Mumbai and later in Ahmedabad was that the underworld gang lords are the ones who organise the defence of the community. They procure firearms and distribute them to their men. The incidence of gunshot deaths and injuries in Delhi during the present riots indicates the hand of the mafiosi. In Congress regimes, the police would have difficulty arresting gang leaders like Haji Mastan and Karim Lala in Mumbai and Latif in Ahmedabad because of political patronage enjoyed by these crime lords. Such impediments will not arise in BJP-ruled states, but one-sided action will not solve the problem — the party’s own leaders will have to be locked up along with Muslim gang lords!

If I were the Prime Minister, I would have exchanged the portfolios of Defence and Home to bring back a softer Hindu leader to manage internal security.

The Prime Minister very astutely despatched his NSA, a former canny police officer, to bring back normalcy to the capital city. This arrangement will have to be abandoned at some time in the near future. To solve a big problem quickly it was a brilliant move, but a permanent solution would require a change in the corridors of North Block.

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