Madness in Delhi
The violence in parts of New Delhi is showing no signs of giving in as the death toll continued to mount. The latest report says that 18 people including a cop have died so far in the violence that is not being dealt with an iron hand by the police.
Even on Wednesday smoke billowed in the air and mobs roamed unchecked through the streets, burning shops, pelting stones and threatening locals, as fresh violence tore through northeast Delhi and increasing the death toll in the communal clashes over the amended citizenship law.
As tension smouldered in the national capital’s northeast violence cut a swathe through several localities with stones and other missiles hurled and shops set ablaze by violent mobs.
With US President Donald Trump on a visit in the capital, Delhi Police ramped up security. It fired teargas shells to disperse the rioters — armed with stones, rods and even swords and many wearing helmets to protect themselves — and was assisted by paramilitary personnel.
Streets were littered with mangled remains of vehicles, bricks and burnt tyres, mute testimony to the violence and bloodshed that took on a communal taint and injured about 250 people, including 55 police personnel.
Amid the violence that has rocked Delhi, a Union Territory, a key question being raised is whether or not the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi can take any action to bring law and order under control. The answer is not a straightforward one, with many factors coming into play.
If the situation is seemingly going out of control what role is the Delhi government playing. Can the local request the Union government to deploy armed forces to maintain law and order?
The NCT of Delhi, under Article 239 AA, has been given a special status, which gives powers of law-making and administration to an elected legislature and the council of ministers. The law, however, puts two subjects — public order and police — directly under the Union government.
Even here, there are exceptions. Two sections of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) —129 and 130 — give the Executive Magistrate certain powers relating to ‘unlawful assembly’. If a group is found in unlawful assembly under Section 129 CrPC, the Executive Magistrate can issue orders to these persons to disperse. If this fails, the magistrate can use the civil force — which is the police.
If these efforts too fail, the Executive Magistrate, under Section 130 CrPC, can call an officer of the armed forces of the Union to disperse the assembly. This section states that it can be invoked for ‘public security’. Therefore, under these two limited powers, the Executive Magistrate, who reports to the Chief Minister, can issue orders relating to public security.
However, all such provisions are being left unexplored. Though we do not wish to comment saying that this is being done deliberately, but the motives underlying the decisions being delayed can be questioned.