The Delhi High Court Women Lawyers Forum on Monday wrote to the Supreme Court, seeking action against the people who shouted inflammatory slogans that called for violence against Muslims at a rally in Jantar Mantar, reported Bar and Bench.
“These slogans whipping up hatred against the Muslims is not protected speech under the Indian Constitution, and is prima facie hate speech,” the forum said in its letter to top court’s registrar. “The speeches made at the rally must not be confused with the right to freedom of dissenting or critical speech.”
The meeting held on Sunday evening was called as part of a “Bharat jodo [Unite India] movement” by former spokesperson of the Delhi unit of Bharatiya Janata Party Ashwini Upadhyay. 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.
In its letter, the forum said that the speeches made at the rally were “directly and explicitly invoking violence” against Muslims and the audience was espousing violence.
The forum also referenced the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 in which “systematic hate speech” had enabled the killing of the members of the Tutsis community. In just 100 days in 1994, about 8 lakh Tutsis as well as political opponents of the ethnic Hutu extremists were slaughtered in Rwanda, according to BBC.
The letter said that inflammatory slogans were against the laws laid down by the Supreme Court in Amish Devgan versus Union of India case, in which it was held that “in a polity committed to pluralism, hate speech cannot conceivably contribute in any legitimate way to democracy and, in fact, repudiates the right to equality,” according to Live Law.
“The videos of the above incident, are shocking, and cannot be dismissed lightly,” the forum added. “The rally was organised in violation of the prevalent Covid-19 guidelines of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority”.
The letter also said that those involved in such criminal conduct should not be allowed to continue with impunity and urged citizens to raise their voices against the “hate mongers”.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police on Monday registered a First Information Report against unknown persons in connection with the incident. The FIR did not name any specific person even though several videos from the rally clearly showed the identities of the participants.
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.