The Delhi High Court on Monday gave two weeks to politicians and public figures to file responses on applications to implead them as respondents to petitions filed in connection with the 2020 Delhi violence, PTI reported.

A batch of petitions have been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking that an independent inquiry be conducted by a Special Investigation Team and that first information reports are registered against political leaders for making provocative speeches before violence erupted in the Capital.

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.

The application by Shaikh Mujtaba has sought to add Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Anurag Thakur, Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma and Abhay Verma as respondents.

Another application by Lawyers Voice has sought to implead 20 persons, including Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Aam Aadmi Party’s Manish Sisodia and Amanatullah Khan, activists Harsh Mander and Umar Khalid, retired Bombay High Court judge BG Kolse Patil and actor Swara Bhaskar, among others.

On February 28, the High Court had issued notices to all the proposed respondents. It had sought their responses to the pleas seeking action against them for the provocative speeches.

On Monday, a bench headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul noted that lawyers of some political leaders and public figures were present in the court but a few others were not, reported PTI.

The court directed officials to give copies of the paperbook in the case and other relevant material to these politicians and public figures.

“The proposed respondents are at liberty to file a reply to the application within two weeks,” said the bench.

The matter will now be heard on July 4.

Statements of the BJP leaders

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

In the presence of a senior police official, the BJP leader had demanded that the law enforcement officers evict the protestors and had 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.

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”.