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Making Amends

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After six years, the opposition parties have finally got the issue that had evaded them all this time – a communal riot during Prime Minister Modi’s tenure. The BJP, which is labeled a communal party because of its Hindutva ideology, had always put forward its clean slate in this regard as an achievement. In fact, the manner in which Modi as chief minister had handled the Godhra inspired riots in Gujarat was held up as a model that ensured there were no repeats of such incidents in that state. Now that the record has been spoiled, it is natural that outrage will be expressed in both Houses of Parliament with a vigour not recently witnessed in the opposition.

As is the practice in such cases, there will be considerable drama before the Home Minister gets the opportunity to make a statement on the issue. More important than learning what happened, it would be necessary to know what steps the government is going to take on preventing a repeat of the tragedy, and to bring the culprits to book. Quite obviously, there will be no drawback on the CAA, no matter how much some might be hoping for that.

It may be noted that, while nobody in government ostensibly had a clue what was going to happen, there was at least one AAP corporator at whose home preparations had begun almost a week before, with tractor loads of stones, petrol and acid being delivered, as well as catapults being installed to launch them. There can absolutely be no doubt that the entire incident was planned to embarrass the Indian Government before President Donald Trump. To every conspirator’s chagrin, Trump did not take the bait. By no means is this a spontaneous breakout of clashes, as it goes against the ingrained culture of the NRC, where people have too much at stake in the system to have their lives disturbed in this way. Hopefully, the police and other investigative agencies will identify the planners, even if it takes the usual years to bring them to justice. Rather than approach it as a Hindu-Muslim clash, every death, particularly, needs to be investigated individually. This knowledge would go a long way in preventing future such incidents by establishing patterns of behaviour and the failures in security. The politicians, of course, will feast on the sufferings of the victims but, as a society, Delhi must find a way to heal and prevent any repeats.