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Delhi Violence: Bucks stops with Home Minister Amit Shah

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The rioting in the national capital is the latest and most disturbing in a series of misadventures involving India's best-staffed and equipped police force. Despite the exemplary courage demonstrated by Delhi Police personnel in the field, the violence could not be contained, pointing to a failure of the chain of command and underlining the urgent need for police reforms.

On the one hand, head constable Ratan Lal was shot dead and DCP Amit Sharma severely injured while battling rioteers in north-east Delhi and unarmed head constable Deepak Dahiya bravely faced down a miscreant pointing a pistol at him. On the other, media reports documented the inaction of police personnel in preventing the escalation of violence.

The police personnel demonstrated exemplary courage; why then, could they not stem the riots before 20 people lost their lives? The inconsistency must be laid at the door of higher authorities and in Delhi, the buck stops with the Union Home Minister.

The Supreme Court has condemned the “lack of professionalism” in the police force. “Police should act as per law,” said Justice Joseph. Perhaps his remark ought to have been followed up by a question: just how much functional autonomy does the cop on the street, or even the DCPs, actually have?

The answer varies from state to state, but the fact is that the police has been instrumentalised by the political class. The criminal misconduct of the Delhi Police during........

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