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Hindu Mahapanchayat: 4 FIRs, No Arrests so far; Questions Raised on Delhi Police

Mukund Jha |
If the Burari event did not have police permission, how did it go on for hours, and how were people on bail allowed to make hate speeches again?
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Delhi Police has registered a total of four FIRs on incidents at the Hindu Mahapanchayat held in Burari, Delhi, on April 3. The event was mainly organised by Seva India Foundation and other Hindu organisations, reportedly without police persmission.

In this mahapanchayat, venom was openly spewed against Muslims (various videos are doing the rounds). Also, there were allegations of misbehaviour and assault on some journalists. Amid all this, the role of Delhi Police remains questionable.

The biggest question is, how did the police allow the programme to be held and go on for so many hours without permission?

Two, how were persons accused of hate speech allowed to address gatherings once again and create religious hysteria?

Three, even after two days of the incident, only FIRs have been lodged, why has no accused been arrested yet?

These are some questions being raised on the role of the police administration.

Police Action Till Now

A total of four FIRs have been registered so far in the Burari Hindu Mahapanchayat case. The first has been registered against the organisers and their inflammatory speeches. The second FIR is related to the alleged molestation and assault of a woman journalist. The third is related to assault on an independent journalist and the fourth is related to alleged inflammatory posts on various Twitter handles.

Meanwhile, according to news agency PTI, in the fourth FIR, Delhi Police has accused a journalist and a news portal, who said they were assaulted during the controversial Hindu Mahapanchayat programme, of “creating enmity” between two communities through their tweets.

Hate Speeches by Narsinghanand

In Burari, Deepak Tyagi alias Yati Narasinghanand, who is out on bail in the Haridwar hate speech case, once again gave hate speeches, and openly asked Hindus to take up arms. He made many misleading claims, such as in 20 years 50% of people will change their religion.

Recall that this Hindu Mahapanchayat was organised by Preet Singh of Seva India Foundation, the same group that had organised a similar controversial programme at Jantar Mantar in the national capital where anti-Muslim slogans were raised and open calls were given to kill Muslims.The programme was held at a stone’s throw from Parliament House.

When civil society and Opposition parties of the country raised a furore over this, the Delhi Police arrested BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, organiser of the event Preet Singh (President of Seva India Foundation) and Pinky Chaudhary (real name Bhupendra Tomar) of Hindu Raksha Dal among others. However, all of them are out on bail as of now.

Journalists Booked

Meanwhile, some journalists who allegedly faced assault by a group of people gathered in Burari have been booked by the police for their tweets. According to the police, one Twitter handle belongs to Meer Faisal, who works for a news portal, and another is of news portal, Article 14. In a tweet on Sunday, the journalist had alleged that two Muslim mediapersons were attacked and detained by a mob of Hindus at the Mahapanchayat.

Article 14 had tweeted that five journalists, four of whom were Muslims, on 'assignment' were taken to Mukherjee Nagar Police Station. They were attacked by a group of people who deleted their video. The police, however, denied taking anyone into custody. When contacted, the editor of the portal said they were yet to receive the FIR copy, and reserved his comment.

Police said they were probing the purported video of the event in which "hate speeches" were made by the speakers. Police acknowledged  they had refused permission for the event but the organisers went ahead and around 700-800 people were present at the venue in Burari. However, how did the event continue for hours without permission, requires some answers from Delhi Police.

Delhi Police Role Under Cloud?

In the past few years, Delhi Police has failed or has not tried to control Right wing hysterical mobs spewing venom in the name of Hinduism.

Delhi first saw violence in Ramjas College, then there was an orgy of violence in Jawaharlal Nehru University. The worst was the Delhi communal violence where a part of the country's capital was burning for several days, leaving 53 people dead. In August last year, there was a programme in Jantar Mantar where an open call to massacre Muslims was made.

The common thread in all these incidents is that police did not try to stop those people and only after the incidents some action was seen. There is a saying in Hindi, "Beating the stick after the snake is gone", this is what the police have been seen doing in the violent and communally frenzied programmes held by Hindutva organisations in the past few years. No police action has been taken in all these above incidents, which is a blot on any modern society.

It is ironical that Delhi Police comes across as a mute spectator in all the above incidents, while it has been seen arresting people to stop certain demonstrations and events. In the above cases, knowing that the organisers of this event could be a threat social and religious harmony, programmes were allowed to go on.  This raises questions about the entire policing system.

Can Yati’s Bail Be Cancelled?

The court had granted bail to Narasinghanand saying that the offence committed by him carries "punishment of up to 3 years" and he was granted bail with certain conditions. The court had asked him to take an undertaking before the magistrate court about not repeating any such act in future.

There were many other conditions as well. But Narasinghanand has violated these bail conditions by once again gave a hate-filled speech. So shouldn’t his bail be cancelled? Shouldn’t the courts be taking cognizance of this? Legal experts say that conditionally his bail should be cancelled because the crime for which he is already accused has been repeated.

What journalists who were in Burari say

On Sunday, the controversial Hindu Mahapanchayat came into the limelight when there were reports of attacks on journalists in the afternoon. Newsclick also reported on how journalists were attacked. After this, the journalists put forth their views through social media. We also talked to several journalists and eyewitness journalists who were victims of violence to find out what happened.

Some journalists covering the event said when they reached there on Sunday morning, the situation was normal. They began talking to people for their stories and videos in a normal way. Around 1 o'clock, the people of some Hindutva organisations present there marked the journalists by their work, whether they were in favour of them or not, and later targeted some of them on the basis of identity.

According to eyewitness accounts, there were two incidents in the Burari Mahapanchayat when journalists were misbehaved with and beaten up. One incident involved Newslaundry journalists Shivangi Saxena and Raunak Bhat. In this case an FIR under IPC Sections 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage a woman's modesty), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) has been lodged.

Shivangi confirmed this and said that the police has appointed an investigating officer and has also recorded her statement.

In a Twitter thread, she narrated the entire incident. According to what she has written, while addressing the gathering from the stage, Preet Singh called out her name and asked her that would whatever he was saying fall under hate speech

Shivangi said as soon as she and her colleague Bhatt started making a video, a mob assaulted Bhatt and tried to snatch his cellphone.

What is more surprising is that, according to the people present there, all this was happening in the presence of the police (in a programme that was denied police permission).

Independent journalist Arbab Ali tweeted on April 4 saying that he was able to register an FIR at the Mukherjee Nagar police station in connection with the alleged attack on him and two other Muslim journalists by Hindu Right wingers at the Hindu Mahapanchayat in Delhi's Burari Maidan on Sunday. The FIR has been registered in his case under Sections 323, 341 and 34 1/N of IPC, he tweeted.

Continuing the tweet, Ali writes, "We will now pursue this matter legally and ensure that the perpetrators are punished. And hope this does not happen to any other journalist in the future."

He goes on to write, "As the Indian mainstream media unites for BJP and the Hindu Right, it is even more necessary for us to report the truth in such gatherings and expose the hateful and communal agenda of these Right-wing groups."

Ali further alleged that “Yesterday's attack on us was a targeted attack on our identity as Muslims and journalists. Over the years it has become easier for Right-wing organisations to target Muslim journalists. They want to silence critics and censor journalists who are not in line with their hate agenda.”

“When they forcibly deleted footage from our cameras and phones, they were trying to erase the evidence of their crime," he adds.

‘These people are not Hindus’

Earlier too such programmes have been held. Organisations like Hindu Army and Seva Foundation claimed that lakhs of Hindus would be reaching Burari Mahapanchayat. But leave alone lakhs, even after arranging facilities like buses and vehicles, hardly a thousand people reached Burari. Does this mean that the programme, based on the numbers that arrived, was a failed event? We asked a temple priest why he did not attend this Mahapanchayat. He said “those people are not Hindus but goons.”

(Translated and edited from Hindi by Aditi Nigam)

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