While releasing a book written by Lt. General Zameer Uddin Shah, the man who had led the army response during the 2002 Gujarat riots, former Vice President Dr. Hamid Ansari raised questions about the civil administration and the police's failure to control the situation.
Ansari raised several questions, including why Article 355 was not invoked during the riots.
Here are the details.
The book by Lt. General Zameer Uddin Shah, 'The Sarkari Mussalman' is a memoir that describes his years of service including his stint at the Northeast, the Gujarat riots, and his time as the vice-chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University.
The book launch took place at the India International Centre in New Delhi, and was attended by Shah's brother, actor Naseeruddin Shah, among others.
Interestingly, Lt. General Shah, is his book, claims that he had met then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and then Defense Minister George Fernandes at the Chief Minister's residence at around 2am on March 1, 2002 to seek transport and logistics support.
However, that support arrived only on March 2, and the Army lost "crucial hours" before soldiers were deployed to stymie the violence.
"The initial reaction of the civil administration was tardy; curfew had been ordered but not enforced; no attempt were made to convene peace committees and attitude of police was partisan," Dr. Ansari quoted from Lt. General Shah's book during the launch.
Meanwhile, commenting on the riots, Dr. Ansari raised several questions, the most pertinent being as to why Article 355 was not invoked, despite the defense minister's presence in Gujarat.
For those unaware, Article 355 makes it a duty of the Union government to protect states against external aggression or internal disturbance.
He also questioned the political leadership over its failure to control the riots.
"The book is silent about the role of the political leadership. If civil and police administrations fail to respond to a massive failure of law and order, where does the responsibility rest in a democratic and Parliamentary system?," Dr. Ansari further questioned.
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