The Indian capital of New Delhi witnessed a massive outpouring of grief, anger and fear on Sunday over the death of the nation’s first woman Prime Minister.
With the country’s parliament set to debate the cause of death on Tuesday, the countrys highest court on Monday ordered a state of emergency to be declared across the country, as well as for the whole country, in a bid to restore calm and restore the nation to normalcy.
The Supreme Court on Sunday said the country needed to “cease all the activities” of the government as it was now facing “the worst emergency”.
It also asked the Centre to submit a plan for addressing the “public health emergency”.
The apex court said that it would decide on Monday if the emergency should be declared nationwide, but cautioned that it could take days to put in place the measures needed.
It also said that a state-of-emergency would only last a few days and said it would be decided later.
It said that the government had been advised that the “crisis is not over” and the government could be asked to take action in the next few days.
“This emergency is not only the cause for grief and sorrow but also a cause for anxiety,” the Supreme Court bench said.
“The Emergency has to be quelled by all efforts of the state governments and by the Centre.”
The state government, which has faced criticism over the government’s failure to respond to the massive riot, has said the death toll is expected to rise, though the government has so far refused to make official figures available.
The ruling BJP-led government has said it has set up a task force to look into the cause and will present its findings on Monday.
The government, however, has also refused to accept that the rioters were responsible for the death, arguing that they were acting on orders of the security forces.
In a statement on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had been criticised for his handling of the riots, said: “It is with great regret that I must inform you that my Government has been informed about the death and is working to determine the circumstances of her death.”
The ruling party has been criticised over the way the government handled the riot, with members of the ruling Congress party, the BJP and other political parties accusing the government of failing to provide adequate resources and supplies to the citizens of the capital.
It was the first time since the riots began that the country has been plunged into crisis since they started in February last year.
More than 400 people were killed in the riots.