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A blot on democracy

Recent communal riots in Delhi make an even stronger case for a dedicated police force under the State government that can be held accountable

A blot on democracy

The night holds unknown horrors, screams rip the still sky, fires rage…this is not a scene from an end-of-the-world movie…this is north-east Delhi in India's capital. The violence that unfolded in the last few days between Hindus and Muslims is deeply disturbing. Both communities have lost lives and livelihood as the skirmishes left behind charred remains of whole neighbourhoods as ugly reminders.

Many of us watched the dystopia on television sets while several innocent common people and a clutch of brave journalists lived it…by all accounts it was Hell on earth. Over

34 dead and counting, media personnel brutally beaten, only to be saved by surnames such as 'Sharma', 'Shukla',

and a rudraksh mala. The communal tinderbox was building up for a long time, efficiently goaded by incitements of hatred generously delivered by politicians who roam around scot-free.

What happened in Jaffrabad, Chand Bagh, Maujpur, and surrounding areas were all-out communal riots, a culmination of provocative hate speeches by the likes of BJP leader Kapil Mishra. Four mosques burnt in 48 hours brought back painful memories of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. And damages

have been felt on both sides. Both Hindus and Muslims have lost lives, their businesses razed to the ground by angry mobs, the lanes leading up to their localities today lie barricaded for self-preservation. Areas divided on communal grounds, no place for the 'dill' (heart) that the national capital is well-known for, only poison spills forth. We must all be ashamed of who we are becoming as a nation. This is no show of might. This is no quelling of protests. This is no revolt against draconian laws. We are all falling trap to the oldest trick in the political book — divide and rule. And who suffers? The poor, the underprivileged, the daily wage earner, the immigrant labour, the small businessmen — only the poor truly suffer…always.

Was the violence an answer to electoral defeat? Was it designed to break the back of the newly elected AAP government? Was it a spontaneous outburst that shamed India while US President Donald Trump was visiting? Not that it would have mattered to Trump much; there's very little that moves him; human misery isn't one of them. Deeper investigations may finally unravel the triggers for such despicable violence and arson. But certain factors definitely stood out — the ineptitude of the home ministry to bring about peace speedily, the failure of intelligence agencies to prevent the riots, the inability of the state government to get off the fence — all reek of a malaise that's getting too dangerous to shake off. Stories of men in khaki abetting rioters or simply turning a blind eye brings grave discredit to a police force that otherwise spends arduous hours in the service of the capital. But the blame game on law and order will continue and no one will be held accountable until and unless Delhi gets its own police.

All Union Territories that have a Lt. Governor has its own police force, except Delhi. Curious, no? Obviously, not giving the capital its own force is an old modus operandi of keeping the most powerful city in the country under the thumb of the central government (this has been constant no matter which party is in power). It's time to delineate the centre's hold on the police and divide the existing force into Delhi police and State Police.

The writer is an author and media entrepreneur.

Views expressed are strictly personal

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