Under pressure to respond more effectively as violence escalated in the national capital, which he won by an overwhelming majority just earlier this month, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal suggested he had faith in the Centre’s handling of the situation.
This, even as his own MLA, Atishi, tweeted: “Violence and arson has been continuing for 48 hours now. Police, civilians, Hindus, Muslims are injured in large numbers. At least 10 people have died. If police are unable to maintain law and order, why is Amit Shah not imposing curfew? Why is the Army not being called in?”
Violence and arson has been continuing for 48 hours now. Police, civilians, Hindus, Muslims are injured in large numbers. At least 10 people have died. If police is unable to maintain law and order, why is @AmitShah not imposing curfew? Why is the army not being called in?
— Atishi (@AtishiAAP) February 25, 2020
For the Army to be called in, a formal request has to be made by the District Magistrate of the affected area. In Delhi, the revenue department, and hence the District Magistrate, is under the Delhi government.
Delhi government officials confirmed that the DM concerned had not been directed to make any such request. Shahdara DM Sanjiv Kumar, under whom the area rocked by violence falls, did not respond to calls or messages seeking a comment.
Kejriwal met Home Minister Amit Shah at noon. Just half an hour earlier, he had held a meeting with a few MLAs and ministers of his Cabinet. The toll at the time stood at five. As soon as the meeting ended, he said the border areas needed to be sealed to ensure outsiders do not enter to vitiate the atmosphere. He also said that district magistrates and MLAs of the area would hold peace marches and hoped that the situation would be brought under control soon. However, violence continued to escalate.
Following the 12 pm meeting with Shah and Delhi L-G Anil Baijal, Kejriwal, who was also joined by BJP’s Manoj Tiwari and Congress’s Subhash Chopra, said it was “positive”.
“If the violence escalates, it won’t help anyone… We have been assured that police are taking action and that enough people will be deployed… Many policemen are injured as well,” said Kejriwal after the meeting.
Sources in the AAP said the CM had asked the Home Minister to use all options to control the violence, but did not specifically ask that the Army be called in.
At 3.30 pm, Kejriwal, along with his deputy Manish Sisodia and other ministers, visited Rajghat to “pray for peace”.
The death toll by afternoon was in double digits, and by evening, it had touched 13.
When contacted, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh told The Indian Express that the party has repeatedly said that the Army must be called in. Asked why the government had not written to the Centre or asked the area DM to do so, he said: “What is the Centre doing? Are they waiting for us to write a letter? How will that help?”
The Indian Express also reached out to several senior AAP members who are part of the government to ask why a formal request for the Army to be called was not made, but they did not respond to calls and messages.
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