Rajat Sharma

Take stern action against political leaders who are inciting violence

AKB1909 Eleven people were killed and many injured in violent anti-CAA protests that rocked several cities of Uttar Pradesh on Friday. UP Police however put the death toll at six. In Delhi, there was peaceful protest near Jama Masjid but the day ended with arson and stone pelting near Daryaganj.

In order to stop rumours from spreading, the UP government snapped internet services in 21 districts, including Lucknow and Varanasi. Incidents of violence were also reported from Jabalpur (MP) and Vadodara (Gujarat).

Most of the violent anti-CAA protests that took place in UP on Friday were in pockets considered as strongholds of Samajwadi Party. BSP supremo Mayawati had said earlier in the day that her partymen would protest peacefully unlike other parties who indulge in stone pelting and vandalism.

The death of people in police firing in UP is saddening, but there is need for immediate action against political leaders who are fanning and inciting protests.

I would like to appreciate Delhi Police for its efforts to ensure peace during Friday protests near Jama Masjid. Not a single stone was thrown, and the protesters dispersed after appeals from local Muslim clerics. In the evening, a car was set on fire in Daryaganj, and I have been told by local Muslim leaders that some outsiders had come to the locality to carry out this act of arson.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi in a video message on Friday said that “people’s apprehensions are real and legitimate”. Drawing a parallel with demonetization, Sonia Gandhi said CAA will force all individuals to stand in queues to prove their and their ancestor’s citizenship while the NRC would target the poor. Her words were echoed by her daughter Priyanka Vadra who made it a rich versus poor issue and said that poor people would be hard hit while trying to prove their citizenship.

The fear that Priyanka Vadra has aroused in the minds of Muslims, is exactly the same that is being spread among the Muslims during the last two weeks.

The Home Ministry got its act together only after several days to admit this sense of fear, and it had to issue a clarification on Friday that only a document mentioning date of birth and place of birth would be sufficient to prove one’s citizenship. This includes Aadhar card, PAN card, school leaving certificate or the like. There will be no need to submit birth certificates of individuals or their parents. Those who do not have these documents can submit affidavit from any member of their community. If either of the parents is an Indian, the child shall be considered an Indian citizen.

These clarifications are helpful, but there appears to be a huge trust deficit between the Muslims and the government. A sense of confidence will have to be created in the minds of people so that they can trust the government’s assurances. The average Muslim is watching this entire exercise with suspicion, and it is this which has became a fertile ground for interested political groups to play with people’s emotions.

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