The violence that engulfed parts of Delhi yesterday has been horrific to witness. Images of bloodied Muslim men cowering in terror as they are set upon by hordes of rod-wielding goons, rioters firing guns indiscriminately in the presence of police, and the death of a head constable - the chaos in the Capital has witnessed a loud silence from CM Arvind Kejriwal.
Yes, the police comes under the purview of the Union Home Ministry, which means the security forces are under Amit Shah. But as CM, people are claiming he could have done more.
While the violence was going on, many started pointing out that Kejriwal had not even commented on the issues of police inaction and the many flagrations.
Riot-like situation in northeast Delhi's #ChandBagh, Where is Mr Kejriwal?— Alim Jafri (@alim_jafri) February 24, 2020
Please join in large numbers to question Arvind Kejriwal about his silence on Brutal violence and Delhi Police inaction in Delhi.— United Against Hate (@UAH_India) February 24, 2020
Date: 25th Feb
Time: 11:00 am
Add: 6 Flagship Road, Civil lines. #UnitedAgainstHate #DelhiViolence #DelhiBurning pic.twitter.com/R9FiiXMXqN
Despite not having the police, there were many things he could have done yesterday - visited the affected areas with his ministers, met with the commissioner about security, and mobilised MLAs.
Instead, we mostly just saw tweets of him celebrating the fact that First Lady Melania Trump was visiting one of the Delhi government schools that come under AAP's ambit.
.@FLOTUS will attend happiness class in our school today. Great day for our teachers, students and Delhiites. For centuries, India has taught spirituality to the world. Am happy that she will take back the msg of happiness from our school— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 25, 2020
Before the Delhi elections, Kejriwal did not adopt an ideological stance - an understandable political move to conserve his vote base. But after winning, people have called him out for not saying anything.
He has the people behind him, after all, the AAP won Delhi by a huge margin. That means he would have the support of the people when it came to making hard decisions. He and his party got votes on the basis of their work done in the fields of health and education. They built goodwill because they focused on issues instead of hate-rhetoric. But a policy of silence cannot help in a situation where direct intervention is required.
Also, it's even more disappointing because this is a man who's political career started on grassroots activism - sitting on dharnas, peaceful protests - these were his signature moves.
Yet, when Delhi is burning, when there are 7 civilian casualties and one dead head constable - all we see for an entire day is a tweet. Surely he could have put more pressure on the Centre by going on a protest and organising volunteers.
This is the guy was unafraid to say what he felt was right, no matter how many feathers got ruffled. He even once put out this famous tweet!
Modi is a coward and a psycopath— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 15, 2015
Now, though, that fire seems to have been replaced by the typical politician, who doesn't go beyond what is necessary.
On the other hand, people have also argued that it should be Amit Shah reaching the points of violence to try and quell the situation. At the end of the day, the security forces are under him.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal called a meeting today with his MLAs, the LG and Amit Shah to assess and deal with the situation. He is trying to get Shah to give more power to the local police.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal addressing a meeting of officers and MLAs of violence hit areas on how to resolve the current crises and maintain peace and harmony in the area. @ThePrintIndia pic.twitter.com/Cl9IKZ5rs7— Aneesha Bedi (@AneeshaBedi) February 25, 2020
It also cannot be ignored that Kejriwal put out a statement so long after the violence had hit the news. There was definitely a better way to have stood with the people of Delhi.
Addressing the people who voted him to power is one of the main duties of the CM, but it came very late, and simply in the form of a tweet. He could have done more, such as visit the injured, given a public address - anything.
Over and above that, Kejriwal has been criticised for not putting a meeting together earlier. For now, hospitals have been asked to tend to the injured, and the fire department has also been asked to coordinate with the police.
Kejriwal also defended himself, telling NDTV,
MLAs of the affected areas have informed that there is a severe shortage of police force and police can't take action till they receive orders from the top.
Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah is chairing a meeting with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, Congress leader Subhash Chopra, BJP leaders Manoj Tiwari & Rambir Singh Bidhuri and others. #NortheastDelhi pic.twitter.com/iz2ohNeSNo— ANI (@ANI) February 25, 2020
However, many people have taken that as a meek response. While the tussle between the Centre and the State government might explain the lack of support from the top, Kejriwal's response is also being viewed as a drop in standards. For now, we can only hope that the violence subsides as soon as possible.