Calling attention to the “continued misrepresentation and mischaracterisation” of his speech at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 16 last year, 94 former civil servants, part of the Constitutional Conduct Group, have released a statement in support of social activist Harsh Mander.
The statement comes at a time when the Delhi Police has filed a chargesheet in the murder of Intelligence Bureau officer Ankit Sharma, who was killed during the riots in north-east Delhi. Sharma’s body was found on February 26, 2020.
In light of the recent spate of arrests of civil rights activists in connection with the Delhi Riots, the former civil servants refer to the chargesheet of the incident, which has listed a “chronology” of events that led to the violence.
“Mr.Sharjeel Imam (JNU Student), who visited the site and provoked the protestor on 14/12/19 to block all the metro cities in north India until CAA/NRC is rolled back by the Government and after that riots incidents broke out in area of NFC and Jamia Nagar, Mr. Harsh Mander, who visited the site on 16/12/19 and instigated the protestors to not have faith in the Supreme 20 Court and to fight their battle on road to get justice. He, however, used a façade of peach in a part of his speech and Sh. Chander Shekhar Azad (Leader of Bheem Army), who visited the site on 22/12/19, who instigated the protestors to remain on road, until CAA/NRC/NPR is rolled back by the Government, are some of the speakers giving hate speeches (sic),” the chargesheet said.
The former civil servants say that the Delhi Police chargesheet makes the “story that they are trying to build up for the larger conspiracy”, clear. “It is likely that they (Imam, Azad and Mander) will become co-accused in this way in many or all the riot cases, in addition to the conspiracy case,” they write.
The speech that the Delhi Police has used to suggest that Mander incited passions in December last year, was made at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 16, 2019. The group has re-iterated that a “selectively edited video” of Mander’s speech was being used against him.
On March 6, the Supreme Court asked Mander to respond to allegations that he had made derogatory remarks against the apex court in the said speech. In a video clip that had gone viral, Mander had said: “This fight can also not be won in the Supreme Court because, we have seen in - the case of the NRC, Ayodhya and Kashmir, the Supreme Court has not protected humanism, equality and secularism. We will certainly try in the Supreme Court, it is our Supreme Court after all. However, the final decision will be given neither by the Parliament nor by the Supreme Court.”
However, the full video of the speech tells a different story. The following is what Mander said just after he mentioned the Supreme Court: “What will be the future of the country? You are young people – what kind of a country do you want to leave for your children? Where will this decision be made? On the one hand, the decision can be taken on the streets. We are all out on the streets. However, there is one more space, bigger than the streets, where this decision can be taken. What is this space where the solution to this fight can be found? It’s in our hearts – in my heart and your heart.”
The former civil servants write that their statement is to bring to light the “possible misuse of law against a champion of non-violence and believer in the rule of law.”
They mention that at the same time, political leaders who “used hate speech and incited violence roam free with impunity.”
Earlier, on March 22, 95 former civil servants from the Constitutional Conduct Group had written an open letter titled ‘In defence of Harsh Mander.’ In the letter, they had argued how a cropped video had been to target Mander.
In Defence of Harsh Mander_ an Open Letter to the Media – Constitutional Conduct by Newsclick on Scribd
Here is the full video of Mander’s speech: