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New Delhi, February 27, 2020
A Congress delegation led by its president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minsiter Manmohan Singh today met President Ram Nath Kovind on the violence in Delhi, which has left at least 37 people dead since Sunday and sought the removal of Home Minister Amit Shah from his position for failing in the performance of his duties.
"We call upon you and the Constitutional Office you hold, that the life, liberty and property of the citizens is preserved, secured and protected. We also reiterate that you should immediately call for the removal of the Home Minister given the gross ineptitude, abdication of duty and his inability to contain the situation," a memorandum handed over to Kovind during the meeting in Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
"We owe this to the citizens who have lost loved ones, their homes, their livelihood and most of all their long-cherished amity and brotherhood. We hope you will take decisive action in the matter," the party said.
Talking to newspersons on their way out from Rashtrapati Bhavan, Gandhi said that, at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on the situation in the capital yesterday, the party's leadership had decided to call on the President and hand over a memorandum to him containing their demands.
Gandhi read out portions of the memorandum and said that the President had told the delegation that he would take congnizance of their letter. She said the delegation was satisfied with his response.
Singh said they had told Kovind that what had happened in the national capital in the last four days was a "matter of deep concern and it is also a matter of national shame that 34 persons at least have died and over 200 people have been injured."
The former Prime Minister said the events were a "reflection on the total failure of the Central Government to control the situation".
He said the delegation had requested the President to use his power to call upon the Central Government to protect and preserve its "Raj Dharma" so that the citizens of the country and the national capital are assured of peace tranquillity and justice.
The memorandum said that, "instead of taking active steps to remedy or diffuse the situation, the Central Government as also the newly elected Delhi Government, had remained mute spectators as completely mindless rage, designed violence and organised looting of property has continued unabated."
"Due to the complete inaction on the part of the Home Minister and the Central Government, the violence has claimed the lives of at least 34 people and over 200 have been injured at last count. Several crores worth of properties and business have fallen prey to unchecked arson and looting.
"This chaos, which is unprecedented in scale and tone, gives rise to several questions.
"First, where was the Home Minister and what was he preoccupied with since last Sunday that he was unable, apparently, to give his attention to these grave events? For that matter, the Delhi Chief Minister, and the newly elected Delhi Government was also completely missing from the scene.
"Second, there was clearly a shocking and, in this day and age, unpardonable failure of intelligence agencies leading up to these heart-breaking events. Was there any information provided which could have helped prevent escalation of violence or was it not acted upon by the Home Ministry?
"Third, what was the strength of the police force deployed on the night of Sunday when there were clear indications that violence will intensify further?
"This is important because the forces on the ground were clearly inadequate to quell the situation, which has continued to claim more lives since. In fact, why were additional security forces not deployed immediately by the Home Minister when it was clear that the situation was beyond the control of the Delhi police?
"In light of these disturbing facts and omissions, only one conclusion emerges: That the Home Minister abdicated his duty and allowed the situation to escalate through his inaction.
"Therefore, there is no option left but to demand the immediate sacking of the Home Minister, who has utterly and abjectly failed in the performance of his primary and principal duties.
"The situation is so grim that the Delhi High Court has had to step in (on February 26th, 2020) and remind the Home Ministry and the Police of their principal duty to act against instigators, the rioters and those engaging in the acts of targeted violence. This is a shameful indictment of the Central Government, the Home Ministry and the Home Minister himself," it said.
The memorandum said that what was particularly worrying was that an atmosphere of sectarian hate and communal tensions had been spread and deliberately cultivated by certain individuals and forces.
"This violence has taken place over the course of four days, but you are aware that the seeds of this division have been sown by deliberately made inflammatory remarks of BJP leaders in the run up to (and even after) the Delhi elections and a calculated design to foment hate and division amongst the citizens of this country.
"Rashtrapati ji, you will recall that this year marks the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi ji gave his life upholding the ideals of Ahimsa, compassion, brotherhood and unity, which form the pillars on which our Constitution and democracy rest.
"It is how the leaders and institutions of a country react in times of crisis that defines how we are remembered by history and the rest of the world.
"We cannot be found wanting in this hour where certain groups seek to divide the people of our great nation for their parochial and petty gains.
"Rashtrapati ji you are given the highest possible responsibility under the Constitution of India: to act as the conscience keeper of this Government and to remind it of its Constitutional duty and the pillars of Raj Dharma, by which any just government must abide," the memorandum added.