Requesting Parliamentarians to help in spreading awareness about coronavirus, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan in Lok Sabha said that the government is taking efforts to contain the spread of infection. External Minister S Jaishankar also said that the government is trying to ensure the well-being of Indians stranded in Iran and Iraq. "There are operational constraints in evacuating Indians as the Iranian system is strict. We will do whatever we must do to check the spread of coronavirus," Jaishankar said, adding that 'exceptional circumstances require exceptional measures'.
Earlier in the morning, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said that there was no proposal to adjourn the House over coronavirus. In Rajya Sabha, meanwhile, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu urged citizens and parliamentarians to adhere to guidelines issued by the Health Ministry to prevent the spread of infection. Later in the day, a fiery exchange is likely to take place in Rajya Sabha as the House debates Delhi riots, that killed over 50 people.
During the discussion on Wednesday in Lok Sabha, the Opposition asked for Home Minister Amit Shah's resignation. He, on the other, hand, vowed not to spare the rioters and called the Delhi riots a conspiracy that had been hatched well in advance and assured Parliament that the rioters, irrespective of which side they belong to, will not be spared. He also defended the Delhi Police which has faced severe criticism for alleged dereliction of duty. The Congress later staged a walkout.
On the Opposition criticism that the government had deliberately delayed a discussion on the Delhi riots in Parliament, Shah said this was done due to the festival of Holi and to give time to the Delhi Police to conduct investigations. “During Holi, sentiments are often high. In the past communal clashes have happened… We just wanted a peaceful Holi.”
Beginning his speech with expressing grief over the deaths in the riots, Home Minister reiterated multiple times that strict action would be taken against anyone behind the violence. “The Narendra Modi government will not spare anyone from any side… A scientific investigation is being conducted. No innocent will face any trouble. They may be called for questioning, but no one will be arrested without evidence,” Shah said.
Elaborating on the “conspiracy” behind the riots, Shah said 300 people had entered from Uttar Pradesh, and referred to speeches made by the AIMIM’s Waris Pathan and former JNU student Umar Khalid. He also obliquely accused the Congress, in particular Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, of inciting violence. He said police were using face recognition software and had identified more than a thousand people through it.
“On December 14, a political party held a rally at Ramlila Maidan. Its leader gave a speech where she made a call for ‘Aar paar ki ladai (fight to finish)’. On December 16, Shaheen Bagh started. Another senior leader of the party said if you don’t get out of your homes now you would be called a coward. Were these not hate speeches?” Shah said, adding that 76% of all riot deaths in the country since Independence had happened in Congress regimes.
The Opposition held the government squarely responsible for the Delhi riots, with the Congress and other parties seeking the resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
“When Rome was burning, Nero was playing fiddle or flute on Palatine Hill and waiting to see the burning of the city in order to build one golden palace, Domus Aurea. It appears Nero has now arrived in India. When Delhi was burning, Nero was in Ahmedabad playing flute with President Donald Trump,” Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.