The Haridwar district administration in Uttarakhand on Tuesday denied permission for a “dharam sansad”, or religious conclave, scheduled to be held in Roorkee city on Wednesday, The Indian Express reported.
The administration has also prohibited gatherings of more than five people within a five-kilometre radius of the Dada Jalalpur village near Roorkee.
“Heavy police force has been deployed in the area to stop the mahapanchayat as no permission has been granted to anyone,” Haridwar Senior Superintendent of Police Yogendra Singh Rawat said. “If anyone tries [to organise the event], it will be considered an illegal activity.
Around 200 police personnel, 100 inspectors and sub-inspectors and five companies of the Provincial Armed Constabulary have been deployed in the area, Rawat added.
The administration’s action came hours after the Supreme Court warned the Uttarakhand government to ensure that no hate speech is delivered at the gathering. The state’s chief secretary will be held responsible for “any untoward situation”, the court had said while hearing a case of hate speech against Muslims at similar events in Haridwar and Delhi, held in December.
On Tuesday, Rawat said that strict action will be taken against those who violate the rules and that the matter was being monitored by the Supreme Court.
Despite this, Anand Swaroop, a Hardiwar-based Hindutva leader and one of organisers of the Wednesday’s religious conclave, told The Indian Express that they will go ahead with their plan. Along with him, Swaroop said, core committee members of the “dharam sansad” like Yatindranand Giri, Prabodhanand Saraswati and others will be part of the gathering.
Swaroop added that the event had been planned to discuss the police’s failure to arrest the main perpetrators of the communal violence that erupted in the Dada Jalalpur village on April 16 during a Hanuman Jayanti procession.
Clashes broke out when the procession passed a Muslim-dominated area of the village. The police have arrested 14 Muslims in connection with the violence.
On Tuesday, Swaroop alleged that the local mosque’s imam was responsible for the violence, The Indian Express reported.
“We had given them [the authorities] a week’s time, which ended Tuesday,” he added. “We had already announced that after one week we will organise a mahapanchayat and everyone should accept whatever the mahapanchayat decides.”
Several Muslim residents have fled from the village after Hindutva leaders warned of “action against conspirators”, The Wire reported.
Meanwhile, Haridwar District Magistrate Vinay Shankar Pandey said a case has been filed against 33 of those involved in organising the religious conclave, The Quint reported. Swami Dineshanand, who was closely linked to the Roorkee “dharam sansad”, was taken into police custody along with several others.
“We will follow the Supreme Court guidelines and no one has the right or permission to take law in their hands,” Pandey added.
At Tuesday’s hearing, a bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Abhay Sreeniwas Oka and CT Ravikumar pulled up the Uttarakhand government for submitting to the court that it could not stop such events, or anticipate the kind of speeches that would be made there.
Other ‘dharam sansad’ events
At the religious parliament held in Haridwar between December 17 and December 19, Hindutva supremacists had called upon Hindus to buy weapons to commit genocide against Muslims.
Yati Narsinghanand, an extremist priest known for his hate speech, had said that an “economic boycott” of Muslims was not enough. “No community can survive without picking up weapons...And swords won’t work, they look good only on stages,” he had said.
In the Delhi event, also held in December, videos showed journalist Suresh Chavhanke administering an oath to the attendees to “die for and kill” to make India a Hindu nation.
In their applications, the petitioners pointed out that similar gatherings were being organised in other cities too.
In another religious conclave held in Himachal Pradesh’s Una district on April 17, Narsinghanand had asked Hindus to have more children to make sure India does not become an Islamic country.
The priest was arrested in December in the Haridwar hate speech case and received bail on February 7, on the condition that he could not be a part of any gathering “which aims towards creating difference between communities”.
The Himachal Pradesh Police had issued a notice to Narshinghanand, asking him to not use instigating language against any religion or caste at the religious conclave. The station house officer of the Amb police station in Una district had warned him that appropriate legal action would be taken if their instructions were not followed.