Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said she had never seen the capital simmer under communal tension, as was being witnessed now, in her 15-year tenure.
With elections round the corner, she said it was necessary to ask whether such “instigation” of communal tension was “part of a pattern”.
“Delhi isn’t a communal place,” she said, adding that such repeated instances of peace being breached were simply unthinkable. The question, she said, that needs to be asked is: “Why is it that these incidents are being instigated now?”
She said a number of people had approached her with the same question: “Whether these breaches are being instigated or incited by the BJP for political gain?”
According to her, such “unprecedented” violence days before elections in Delhi had many thinking about the riots in western Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and the religious polarisation that followed. “I certainly hope this isn’t part of a pattern. But the question is being asked by many and needs to be answered,” she said.
Her critics have often cited two instances — the violence over the Jor Bagh karbala land dispute and the Batla House encounter — as “communal”. But Dikshit disagrees. “The karbala dispute had to do with ownership of land and was not on religious lines. But we intervened when necessary. The Batla House encounter was between a police officer and a so-called terrorist. That too wasn’t a communal issue,” she said.
Dikshit, who during the December 16 gang rape protests had made a strong pitch for bringing the city police under Delhi government’s control, said, “The burden of maintaining peace and order remains with police. But they don’t fall under the state government. It’s for elected representatives to provide the much-needed healing touch. But currently in Delhi there are no MLAs since Assembly elections have been called. Therefore, this duty lies with the BJP MPs.”
However, she cited the Trilokpuri riots as an instance of the BJP failing in this duty. “It was only the Congress who were active in any way, attempting to aid those affected by the riots,” the former Delhi CM said.