A court in Delhi on Thursday rejected the bail petitions of three men arrested in connection with an event where inflammatory slogans about Muslims were shouted at a rally in Jantar Mantar on August 8, The Indian Express reported.
Videos from the event, that took place less than 2 km from Parliament, showed a group of people shouting slogans such as: “Jab mulle kaate jayenge, Ram-Ram chillayenge [Muslims will chant Ram-Ram when they are be slaughtered].”
The event was organised by former Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay as part of an effort he called the “Bharat Jodo [Unite India] movement”. It ostensibly aimed to urge the authorities to put an end to “colonial-era laws” by establishing a uniform civil code.
Upadhayay was arrested on Tuesday along with Deepak Singh, Vinod Sharma, Vineet Bajpai, Preet Singh and Deepak Kumar. They were charged with promoting religious enmity and violating Covid-19 protocols. Upadhayay was granted bail a day later, despite the Delhi Police saying he was a speaker at the event.
During Thursday’s hearing, Metropolitan Magistrate Udbhav Kumar Jain denied bail to Deepak Singh, Preet Singh and Vinod Sharma.
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Referring to one of the videos from the event, the judge said Deepak Singh and Preet Singh can be seen making “scathing” remarks that were “undemocratic and uncalled for” by the citizens of a country with constitutional commitment to secularism.
The judge said that in view of the accusations against the three men and the fact that investigation in the case was still at the initial stage, he could not grant them bail, Bar and Bench reported.
Meanwhile, the investigation officer expressed concern that the accused could create communal disharmony after being released.
On the other hand, the lawyer representing Preet Singh claimed that he was not even present in Jantar Mantar when participants were shouting the slogans, according to The Indian Express. Deepak Singh’s counsel also alleged that he was framed in the case. But, the prosecution said that video footage confirmed they were at the rally.
The judge said that he could not check the authenticity of the videos at this point. “This is a matter of appreciation of evidence to be done at a later stage,” he said, according to the newspaper. “Besides, there is no time stamp available at this stage on these video clippings for which proper investigation has to be done. This court cannot interfere with the ongoing investigation.”
He also noted that citizens should be allowed the freedom to express themselves, but added that all rights have a duty attached to them.