The Delhi Police detained several student activists and civil society members on Tuesday evening after they gathered near Jantar Mantar in Delhi to protest against hate speech, PTI reported. Those detained were taken to the Mandir Marg police station and released soon after.

The activists had gathered at the Jantar Mantar to protest against an event on Sunday where incendiary slogans calling for violence against Muslims were shouted at a rally. A Delhi court has remanded Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ashwini Upadhyay and three other accused to two days of judicial custody in connection with the incident.

“The police did not detain those people who made the communal speech [on Sunday],” N Sai Balaji, the national president of students’ body All India Students’ Association, told PTI. “They have stopped us who came here to protest peacefully against the hate speech.”

Videos posted by the protestors showed police officers forcing them into buses, before taking them to the Mandir Marg police station.

An unidentified police officer told PTI that the protest was held without permission. The protestors were asked to disperse after they headed towards Jantar Mantar from Parliament Street around 4 pm. When the police tried to detain them, the protesters started running, leading to jostling and chaos, the officer said.

Communal slogans at Jantar Mantar

Upadhyay had called for the march at Jantar Mantar on Sunday evening as part of his “Bharat jodo [Unite India] movement”. The organisers demanded an end to “colonial-era laws” by setting up a uniform civil code in the country.

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. They also assaulted a journalist and asked him to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.