‘We have reached a point where the Muslims have been pushed into a corner.’

Najeeb Jung, the former lieutenant-governor of Delhi and
former vice chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, in conversation
with the Indian journalist Karan Thapar in a TV show.

Interview | May 2020

Karan Thapar: How would you describe the riots in Delhi? Do you see them as targeted killings or do you think it was a pogrom?
Najeeb Jung: I think they started as a normal clash between the pro-CAA protesters against the anti-CAA protestors. But from the second day onwards, they did turn into a pogrom, the targeted killing of a particular community. Most certainly, the Muslim houses and Muslim establishments were targeted.

KT: When it became a pogrom, as you think it is best described, the targeting was clear. The Muslims were the ones who were being hit.
NJ: Yes, obviously. This was a mini-1984 confined to only the Northeast of Delhi.

KT: That’s a very interesting comparison with the Sikh killings of 1984 and the Muslim killings in Gujarat in 2002. Once again a particular community was the target and that’s where the direction of the violence was. History has repeated itself 40 to 50 years after 1984 and 18 years after 2002.
NJ: It is indeed a very sad time in history as social relations are collapsing and we don’t see succour being provided by political parties. In Delhi, relief is only being provided by NGOs and social workers. The central government and the Delhi government are failing in providing relief. We saw major clashes in 1947 but remember that Jawaharlal himself was out in the streets battling the riots. Where is the central leadership? Where is the Delhi leadership? Why is it only left to activists to go there and provide relief?

KT: Everyone today knows and accepts that the police completely failed and that affected both sides. But activists say that whereas many Hindus have filed FIRs and are confident that the police will respond, not a single FIR has been filed by a Muslim and that’s because they don’t trust the police. Do you believe Muslims have lost faith in the police?

NJ: I think the Muslims are losing faith in many institutions, including the police. The Muslims feel that going to a police station is a waste of time. On the contrary, they may ill-treat them. My wife knows a lady who runs a school in the outskirts of Delhi. That school largely caters to Muslim children. She went to get her gun licence renewed and the SHO said that her running the school was the same as feeding a serpent. This sent shudders down her spine and she was literally shaking. We have reached a point where the Muslims have been pushed into a corner.

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