Some claimed they were going ‘door to door’, others said they were ‘in touch’ with police officials.
It's five days since communal violence broke out in North East Delhi, leaving at least 34 people dead and over 200 injured. Given that it’s only been two weeks since the Delhi election, how have the newly elected legislators been handling the situation?
The election result was declared on February 11. While the Aam Aadmi Party won with an overwhelming majority, the BJP won three of its eight seats in East and North East Delhi. They are Rohtas Nagar, Ghonda, and Karawal Nagar.
Interestingly, Manoj Tiwari, the president of the Delhi BJP, represents North East Delhi in the Lok Sabha. Kapil Mishra, a BJP leader who made an incendiary speech in Maujpur a day before the riots broke out, is a former MLA from Karawal Nagar. Today, the Delhi High Court made the Centre a party to a petition seeking registration of FIRs against political leaders who made inflammatory speeches that allegedly led to the violence — including Mishra.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi only responded to the violence yesterday, tweeting that he had an “extensive review” of the situation. While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was quick to condemn the violence, he was criticised for then going to the Gandhi memorial at Rajghat to “pray for peace”.
What about the MLAs from East and North East Delhi? Newslaundry reached out to some of them. Here's what they had to say.
Ram Niwas Goel
Goel represents the constituency of Shahdara, East Delhi, and is speaker of the Delhi Assembly. He said he’s been “going to localities such as Old Seemapuri to ask people to maintain peace”. Goel said he’s also told AAP volunteers to go from locality to locality and “talk sense” to people.
Rai is the MLA from Babarpur, North East Delhi, and environment minister in the Kejriwal government. He told Newslaundry he tried contacting the police commissioner “multiple times” but the commissioner “refused” to talk to him. He said AAP volunteers are “talking to people on the ground level”.
Rai said the army should be deployed in Delhi to “maintain peace and security in the national capital”.
Mohan Singh Bisht
Bisht is the BJP’s MLA from Karawal Nagar, North East Delhi, which has been a hotspot for the riots. When Newslaundry contacted him, he said he was in his house. He could not be reached again.
Verma is a BJP MLA from Laxmi Nagar, East Delhi. On February 25, he led a march where the crowd shouted slogans like “Police ke hatyaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko” and Jo Hindu hitt ki baat kareyga, vohi desh pe raaj kareyga”. Verma’s claim is that he was “diffusing tensions”.
Verma told Newslaundry: “I condemn these acts of violence and am working with my volunteers to bring back normalcy."
The legislator from Seelampur, North East Delhi, said the situation in his constituency is “comparatively better”. Rehman said he “held a peace march with people from all the religions”, and that he’s doing “all that is feasible” to stop the carnage.
When Newslaundry contacted the BJP MLA from Ghonda, North East Delhi, he said he was visiting the houses of the victims. On Twitter, Mahawar posted a video claiming he was in constant contact with senior police officials and the central government.
Mahajan is the BJP MLA from Rohtas Nagar, North East Delhi. He told Newslaundry he’s doing “door-to-door campaigns” across his constituency, appealing people not to participate in the riots.
Curiously, Mahajan also retweeted this tweet by Sudarshan TV which called a section of the rioters “jihadis”.
Rajendra Pal Gautam
Gautam is the MLA from Seemapuri, North East Delhi, and a minister in the Delhi government. Gautam said he’s holding a meeting with people from across Seemapuri. He’s also visiting hospitals like the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, he said, to “survey the situation”.
As of yesterday, GTB Hospital had received 21 dead bodies and treated at least 189 of the injured people.
The MLAs from Burari, Timarpur and Mustafabad could not be contacted despite several attempts.