New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said that there was “a deep conspiracy” behind the Delhi riots and no one guilty of violence irrespective of his religion, caste or party will be spared.
Replying to the debate in the Lok Sabha on Delhi violence, Shah said that there was a provocation to indulge in communal violence during the visit of US President Donald Trump.
Noting that a case of conspiracy has been registered, he said that a riot can spread so fast if it is premeditated. Shah said 300 people had come from Uttar Pradesh to commit violence in northeast Delhi.
“It is clear there was a deep conspiracy. The UP border was sealed on February 24,” he said.
Shah said that 60 social media accounts have been found, which started on Feb 22 and closed on Feb 26.
“Do they think, they will escape the law. Police will find them wherever they are. Money also reached Delhi. It is part of the conspiracy. We will go to the depth of the matter. Those who received the money have been arrested by police,” he said.
Giving a point-by-point answer to the issues raised by the opposition, Shah in his detailed reply complimented the Delhi Police from controlling the riots in 36 hours and preventing their spread to other parts of the city.
“I am not undermining what happened in 36 hours,” he said.
Answering a query of the SP member who had asked how many Hindus and Muslims had suffered, Shah said: “52 Indians were killed and 526 injured.” He said 371 shops and 142 houses were burnt.
Shah attacked the Congress, which staged a walkout during his reply, and referred to Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s speech in Delhi on December 14 in which she had talked of “Aar Paar Ki Ladai.”
He asked if it was not “hate speech” and said party leaders had also said that those who do not take to streets were timid.
“The speech was made on December 14 and protest at Shaheen Bagh started on December 16,” he said. “We should not look at sensitive issue of communal violence from a political prism,” he said.
Members of IUML also staged a walk-out during his reply.
Noting that 52 people had been killed in Delhi violence, he said that 700 FIRs have been registered since February 27, and 2647 persons were in custody or under arrest and CCTV footage was being analysed on over 25 computers.
He assured that innocent persons will not be arrested and police were doing a scientific investigation. The minister said the government has written to the Delhi High Court to give a name of the judge for constituting Claims Commission.
He said that riots began on February 24 and a person associated with ‘United against Hate’ had urged people on February 17 to hit the streets when Trump visits India.
He also referred to controversial remarks of AIMIM leader Waris Pathan on February 19 and said though the remarks may have been taken back, they had gone viral on social media.
“After these provocative speeches, on the night of Feb 22 and on Feb 23 morning, dharnas and the provocative environment were created at eight-nine places in Delhi which turned into riots on Feb 24,” he said.
Shah questioned how the riots spread so fast and said it was not a small matter.
He said details of CCTV has been sought and people had also been asked to share videos in their possession.
The minister expressed confidence that those responsible for killing IB official Ankit Sharma will also be identified through the footage.
He said that face identification software is being used to identify the guilty. “It does not see religion,” he said, responding to AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi.
Shah said that data with the government including voter ID and the driving licence was being linked to face identification software and said 1100 persons have been identified.
“We are doing it on a scientific basis and not on hearsay. We are taking care that no innocent person is booked. Only those will be arrested against whom there is staunch proof,” he said, adding that senior officers will do the due diligence.
He said that two persons with links to ISIS have also been arrested and the government will investigate 49 serious offences.
Noting that the police were working day and night to bring the guilty to book, he said that 49 cases under the Arms Act have been registered and 152 weapons were seized.
He said 25 cases under the IT Act and “we will find the guilty.”
The minister said police used 5,000 tear gas shells and fired 400 bullets to contain riots. “We have searched for the full information on how much hawala money came to Delhi after February and have reached a conclusion. We have arrested those responsible for financing the riots on basis of further inquiry,” he said.
Refuting allegations of Congress and some other parties that he was missing from action, Shah said that he chaired a series of meetings from the time the riots broke out to bring the situation under control.
He said National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had visited riot-affected areas in Delhi on his request to boost the morale of the police.
The minister said he did not visit the areas as he did not want to distract the police from its work. Shah began by expressing his condolences to families who lost their members.
Noting that Delhi has a population of 1.70 crore, he said that the northeast Delhi was spread over 61 sq km, has 20 lakh residents and is the most densely populated area of the country where even police bikes cannot move easily at some places.
He said the area has the maximum mixed population in the country, has a history of communal violence and also has the presence of criminal elements.
“The area adjoins the Delhi border,” he said.
Shah also refuted opposition allegations that adequate forces were not sent, saying that strength of police and paramilitary force kept increasing from February 24.
At present over 80 police and central police force companies were patrolling the area, he said.
Noting that senior officers were also probing some cases, he said whoever has dared to indulge in communal violence, they will not be able to escape. The Home Minister said the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed after due debate and it does not impact rights of any citizen.
“There was an attempt to mislead the minority community that their citizenship will go,” he said.
He also rejected opposition allegation that no law had been made on the basis of religion and cited the Muslim personal law as an example.
Referring to demand of cases against speeches of some BJP leaders, he said that police was doing its probe.
Shah expressed his pain at the loss of property and said a Claims Commission will be formed and those who had destroyed houses and shops will be made to pay.
Referring to remarks of Owaisi, Shah said temples were also burnt with mosques and expressed pain at the damage to religious places.
He said those who had killed Mohammad Zubair will not be spared but said Owaisi should have also mentioned IB staffer Ankit Sharma who was stabbed 400 times.
Asserting that the Congress has no right to speak on communal riots due to its past record, he said the people in anti-Sikh riots were punished when the BJP came to power.
He also referred to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s remarks that a when a big tree falls, the earth shakes.
Expressing grief over those killed, he said the Delhi Police will act tough and anyone who has killed people will not be spared irrespective of his religion, party or caste.
“I assure that the strictest action will be taken against the guilty,” he said.
With opposition members attacking him over his going for an event to welcome US President Donald Trump in Gujarat on February 24, Shah said the programme was in his constituency and this was a pre-scheduled programme.
Shah said he reached Delhi in the evening and did not take part in events next day in honour of Trump.
“The whole time I discussed with the Delhi Police how to prevent riots from spreading,” he said.
Shah said an all-party meeting was held the next day. He said the government was keen to hold the discussion on Delhi violence after Holi so that the situation normalises fully in Delhi.
The minister said 650 all-religion peace meetings have been held to restore peace in the affected areas.