Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday came under heavy attack from several political parties for having given a "clean chit" to the Delhi Police in his speech in the Lok Sabha a day earlier. Many leaders, including members of the BJP's oldest ally, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), criticised the police's role in the recent communal riots in the national capital.
Naresh Gujral, who had earlier written to the Delhi Police commissioner claiming the police failed to rescue people trapped in riot-affected Maujpur despite his complaint, said in Rajya Sabha on Thursday that the recent violence had reminded him of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
"February 23 was a dark day in Delhi's history. Communal fire engulfed the city, armed hooligans attacked innocent Hindus and Muslims," said Gujral. "However, the police response was inadequate to say the least."
He added that the recent violence "reminded me of 1984 when an orgy of violence was unleashed by mobs led by Congress leaders for three days. Almost 300 innocent people were massacred on the streets of Delhi. Only an impartial and transparent inquiry commission can reveal the truth".
Samajwadi Party's (SP) Javed Ali Khan, referring to the SAD leader's letter, said "till the time Delhi Police gives a satisfactory response to the questions raised by Naresh Gujral, I am not ready to give it a clean chit".
Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O'Brien queried that if the police did a "commendable job" as claimed by Shah, why was its chief replaced and why National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval drafted in to manage the law-and-order situation in the capital.
Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal questioned the role of police while aiming barbs at Shah. He said that there were "47,000 policemen in Delhi and even then the riots couldn't be controlled".
"It's clear the police was supporting the rioters," said Sibal. "NSA Ajit Doval said implementing laws is the duty of police and if it does not, it is a blot on democracy, may be Doval was referring to the HM (Home Minister)? I don't know."
Sibal argued that if former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti could be put behind bars for six months and charged under provisions of the Public Safety Act on mere suspicion that statements made by them could cause violence, "then why was an FIR not lodged when the people who made those offences did it in broad daylight?"
Sibal wondered whether the safety of cows, for whose protection the government has made many efforts, has become a greater priority for the government than the protection of human beings.
Biju Janata Dal's (BJD) Prasanna Acharya asked if, as Shah had said the previous day, that the recent communal violence was executed as part of a well-planned conspiracy, "why did the intel department not preempt the violence? Why was nobody arrested before the violence took place?"
Congress' Rajya Sabha leader from Himachal Pradesh, Anand Sharma, said Shah should not "give this certificate [to Delhi Police] without an investigation".
"If everything was hunky-dory, why did the NSA have to intervene?" said Sharma. "The Home Minister has said the violence was executed as part of a well-planned conspiracy; if so, then these riots should be considered as an intel failure also."