Union Home Minister Amit Shah must take responsibility for violence in Delhi and resign, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said on Wednesday, hitting out at the government over the large-scale violence that has erupted in parts of northeast Delhi, killing 23 people and leaving at least 200 injured.
"What was the Home Minister doing since last week? What was the Home Minister doing earlier this week? Why were the paramilitary forces not called in earlier when the Home Ministry saw the situation worsening," Mrs Gandhi said at a press conference at the Congress headquarters in the capital.
"The central government, including the Home Minister, is responsible. The Congress party demands that he resign immediately," she said after chairing a meeting of the Congress Working Committee, the party's top decision-making body.
Mrs Gandhi blamed both the centre and the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government, saying the administration did not take adequate steps on time to curb violence in the national capital.
"Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and centre are equally responsible for not activating the administration to reach out to the people to maintain peace and harmony," she said.
The Delhi Chief Minister must be visible in the affected areas and stay in constant communication with the people, she said.
The BJP accused the Congress president of politicising the Delhi violence with her attack on the central government. "Congress has Sikhs' bloods on their hands. Who are they to question?" Union Minister and senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said at a press conference shortly after Mrs Gandhi's address to the media, referring to the the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 when the Congress was in power at the centre.
In his first reaction since the violence broke out on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called for calm and said he reviewed the situation in Delhi. "Peace and harmony are central to our ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times. It is important that there is calm and normalcy is restored at the earliest," PM Modi tweeted.
Stone-throwing between rival groups, arson and vandalism on Tuesday marked unrelenting violence over citizenship law protests that began on Sunday, with reports of fresh arson and stone-throwing.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who has been put in charge of restoring normalcy in the violence-hit parts of Delhi, told NDTV that there are enough forces on the ground and that no one needs to fear. "People were doubting the capabilities and intentions of Delhi Police. This needs to addressed. People need to trust the man in uniform," said Mr Doval who visited the violence-hit areas late Tuesday night.