Attacks on a community often start with hate speeches against it, the Delhi High Court said on Monday, PTI reported. There have been demographic shifts in the aftermath of inflammatory speeches, and the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley is a prime example of it, the court added.

“Hate speeches are the beginning point of attacks against the targeted community that can range from discrimination to ostracism, ghettoisation, deportation, and, even to genocide,” Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said. “The methodology [of hate speeches] is not restricted to any religion or community in specific.”

Justice Singh made the observation while hearing a petition seeking criminal cases against Union minister Anurag Thakur and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Parvesh Verma for their alleged hate speech.

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, in his speech, had told an audience that the “lakhs of protestors” who had gathered at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh would enter their homes to “rape their sisters and daughters and kill them”.

The petition against the BJP leaders was filed by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders Brinda Karat and KM Tiwari.

While Justice Singh dismissed the petition filed by the CPI(M) leaders saying they had not followed the prescribed mechanism in such cases, he made detailed observations regarding hate speeches.

In his order, Justice Singh said that hate speeches by elected representatives and political and religious leaders warrant “stringent peremptory action” by the central and state governments, The Indian Express reported.

“It is they who are the role models for the ordinary masses,” Justice Singh said. “Thus, it does not befit or behove the leaders to indulge in acts or speeches that cause rifts amongst communities, create tensions, and disrupt the social fabric in the society.”

He said that hate speeches incite violence and feelings of resentment against members of specific communities and marginalise such individuals by using expressions that expose the group to hatred.

“Hate speeches are almost invariably targeted towards a community to impart a psychological impact on their psyche, creating fear in the process,” Justice Singh said.