I strongly feel that such a massive gathering at Ramlila Grounds did pose a serious security risk. One should try to understand that Ramlila Grounds is surrounded by minority-dominated areas. In the vicinity of Ramlila Grounds, we have Turkman Gate, Fatehpuri Masjid, Ballimaran and the Jama Masjid.
This makes Ramlila Grounds a very sensitive area, which can’t be allowed to be used for the purposes of whipping up communal passions. It is pertinent that Right-wing Hindu leader Sadhvi Rithambhara shared the dais with Baba Ramdev in this sensitive place. Ms Rithambhara brings back the bitter memory of her role in fanning communal passions in the run-up to the demolition of the Babri mosque at Ayodhya. Her presence laid bare the communal agenda that Ramdev was all set to unleash at Ramlila Grounds.
Further, it must be taken into account that the permission for the use of Ramlila Grounds was given to Ramdev for a “yoga shivir” or camp. But we all saw this undertaking being violated and Ramdev launching into political one-upmanship. Ramdev’s camping at Ramlila Grounds was very much part of a hidden agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who clearly wanted to set off a bout of communal disharmony and had chosen their location accordingly. One should not forget that Ramdev was making provocative speeches instead of conducting a yoga jamboree.
In fact, the permission for Ramlila Grounds was only for a few thousand people but Ramdev, using the RSS machinery, succeeded in bringing in many times more people. There was information that there were plans for even more people to be brought in from other states. All this would have posed an even bigger challenge to the already fragile security situation. What was the need for such a large gathering unless there was a hidden agenda? It should be recalled that Anna Hazare had conveyed his message to the government with a much smaller gathering at Jantar Mantar in April. It is pertinent to keep in view that in the run-up to Ramdev’s Ramlila Maidan programme, the capital had seen a small-scale bomb blast near the Delhi high court, apart from a bomb hoax at Gargi College. Such an atmosphere can get the security apparatus and the police force edgy. Delhi has seen terror blasts in the past and still remains high on the target of the terrorists. Therefore, the police was very much justified in taking the Ramlila gathering by surprise. It should be stated that it had shared specific intelligence inputs with Ramdev but the yoga teacher proved insensitive to the concerns of the administration.