The Delhi Police on Monday filed a first information report against unknown persons a day after inflammatory slogans calling for violence against Muslims were shouted at a rally in Jantar Mantar, less than 2 km from Parliament, The Indian Express reported.
The FIR did not name any specific person even though several videos from the rally clearly showed the identities of the participants. Supreme Court lawyer and former spokesperson of the Delhi unit of Bharatiya Janata Party Ashwini Upadhyay posted several tweets asking people to join the event. Another BJP leader, Gajendra Chauhan, was also among the participants in the rally.
The unknown persons have been booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 51 of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority Act for violating Covid-19 protocol.
The complainants sought a criminal case under Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code “against all those particularly the leaders, who were part of the huge gathering as it is deliberate and malicious”.
Scroll.in has seen a copy of the complaint.
It also cited a video that had been sent to the Delhi Police, noting that the faces were visible of all those involved in shouting the slogans.
The complainants also noted that the gathering was allowed to go on despite police presence. “The rule of law and the constitutional spirit are under attack in the heart of India’s capital, and Delhi Police is choosing to look away,” it added.
The complaint was filed at the Parliament Street police station by President of Bihar Mahila Samaj Nivedita Jha, Chairperson Guild of Service Mohini Giri, journalist Sukhprit Kahlon, development and legal consultant Leena Dabiru and Dr Syeda Hameed, former member of the Planning Commission.
Upadhyay had called for the march at Jantar Mantar as part of his “Bharat jodo [Unite India] movement” on Sunday evening. The organisers demanded an end to “colonial-era laws” by setting up a uniform civil code in the country. They had not taken permission for the event, the Delhi Police told The Indian Express.
Videos from the event showed a group of people shouting slogans such as: “Jab mulle kaate jayenge, Ram-Ram chillayenge [Muslims will chant Ram-Ram when they will be slaughtered].”
Those who attended the rally also flouted Covid-19 guidelines as they neither wore masks nor maintained physical distancing norms. A journalist present at Jantar Mantar was also assaulted and asked to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.
However, Upadhyay claimed that the slogans were shouted after the event concluded, according to Bar and Bench. “The rally was from 10 to 12 pm,” he told the website. “Whereas the sloganeering happened around 5 pm. Our rally was outside park hotel but the slogans were given near Parliament house police station. I do not know who they were.”
Meanwhile, the police said they had refused to grant permission for the rally, citing the Delhi Disaster Management Authority’s Covid-19 guidelines, The Indian Express.
“Police arrangements were in place and we thought around 50 people would come, but suddenly many people in small groups started gathering,” an unidentified Delhi Police officer told the newspaper. “They were protesting peacefully, but started raising slogans when they were dispersing.”
However, an officer from the Intelligence Wing said Delhi Police’s Special Branch had informed New Delhi district police that a large crowd was expected, the newspaper reported.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi district) Deepak Yadav said they were verifying the video clips.
Shipra Srivastava, media in-charge of the Bharat Jodo Movement, claimed that she was unaware of any inflammatory slogans being shouted. “There were 5,000 people and if five-six people in some corner would be shouting such slogans, then we disassociate ourselves from them,” she said.
This was the second incident in the past week where communal slogans were shouted against Muslims in the national Capital.
On Friday, Hindutva groups and other organisations held a mahapanchayat, or congregation, in Dwarka to protest against the construction of a Haj House in the area. Videos from the event showed the protesters making communally sensitive comments and calling for violence if the Haj House is built. Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta was also present at the Dwarka event.
On Sunday, several social media users expressed concern about the incidents and demanded action from the Delhi Police. They also called for a statement from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Here are some reactions:
Journalist assaulted, asked to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’
Anmol Pritam, a journalist working with online news organisation National Dastak, was assaulted at the event and was forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.
A video tweeted by Pritam showed a group of men surrounding him and aggressively asking him to chant the slogan. “Either leave the country...If you want to stay, then you have to chant,” one of the men said.
Pritam told Scroll.in that he went to Jantar Mantar on Sunday evening to report on the rally.
“When I saw them shouting these [communal] slogans, I asked them about their demands,” he said. “I asked them what had the [Narendra] Modi government done to meet their demands. Then they got aggressive...said that I was from a ‘jihadi channel’ which will not air their views and asked me to chant Jai Shri Ram.”
Pritam said that he was initially surrounded by 40-50 men but then the crowd swelled, with people using microphones to ask him to chant the slogan. He added that a few men manhandled him and one of them even hit him on his back.
“But I stood my ground...I told them that they cannot force me to shout the slogan,” Pritam said. “I am aware that Jai Shri Ram is a political slogan...This slogan is more about hatred for Muslims than devotion [for Hindu deity Ram].”
Pritam said that the police personnel present at the spot did not intervene when he was being assaulted.
He also expressed concern at communal slogans being raised at Jantar Mantar, the heart of the national Capital.
“Just last year, we witnessed riots in Delhi where so many people were killed... This [Sunday’s incident] was a clear case of an attempt to provoke the Muslims,” Pritam said. “And this situation is at Jantar Mantar which is a democratic space in the city... Even the police should have taken action.”