The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the responses of political leaders on applications to implead them as respondents to petitions in connection with the 2020 Delhi violence, reported Live Law.

Petitions have been filed in Delhi High Court seeking an independent probe by a Special Investigation Team and the registration of first information reports against political leaders for “hate speech” before the violence erupted on February 23 in the national Capital.

The impleadment application by Shaikh Mujtaba sought to add Union minister Anurag Thakur and three other Bharatiya Janata Party leaders – Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma – as respondents to the petition.

Another application by Lawyers Voice has sought to implead 20 people including Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Aam Adami Party leaders Manish Sisodia and Amanatullah Khan, activist Harsh Mander, jailed student activist Umar Khalid, retired Bombay High Court judge BG Kolse Patil, actor Swara Bhaskar, among others, according to The Indian Express.

Others named are All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leaders Akbaruddin Owaisi and Warris Pathan.

Justice Siddharth Mridul said those named must be given chance to respond. “We can’t implead if they oppose it,” said the judge, according to Live Law. The court will hear the matter next on March 22.

Communal violence had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing the law in North East Delhi between February 23 and February 26, 2020. The violence claimed 53 lives and hundreds were injured. The majority of those killed were Muslims.

Statements of the BJP leaders

On February 23, 2020, Mishra had amassed a crowd and gave an ultimatum to the police to clear streets of protesters who were demonstrating against the Citizenship Act amendments in Jafrabad

In the presence of a senior police officer, the BJP leader had demanded that the police evict the protestors and threatened violence in case they failed to do so within three days.

At a rally in January 2020, Thakur was heard shouting “desh ke gaddaron ko” and the crowd responded with “goli maaro saalon ko”. The slogan meant “shoot the traitors”, with an expletive used for “traitors” being a reference to those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Parvesh Verma had told an audience that the “lakhs of protestors” who have gathered at Shaheen Bagh would enter their homes to “rape their sisters and daughters and kill them”.