Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra on Monday said that he had no regrets about the speech he made before large-scale communal violence broke out in Delhi last year, and would “redo” it if needed, PTI reported.
“I will do what I did again,” Mishra said during the launch of the book Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story. “I don’t have any regrets, except that I couldn’t save the lives of Dinesh Khatik, Ankit Sharma [an Intelligence Bureau staffer] and many others.”
He added: “Whenever roads will be blocked, and people would be prevented from going to work, or children to school, there will always be a Kapil Mishra to stop that.”
Clashes had broken out between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and 26, 2020, in North East Delhi, killing 53 people and injuring hundreds. The police were accused of either inaction or complicity in some instances of violence, mostly in Muslim neighbourhoods. The violence was the worst Delhi saw since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
On February 23, 2020, Mishra amassed a crowd and gave an ultimatum to the police to clear the roads of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors holding a sit-in protest at Jafrabad in Delhi. In the presence of a senior police officer, he demanded that the police evict the protestors and threatened violence in case they failed to do so within three days. His speech raised tensions in the area and precipitated skirmishes that afternoon.
At the book launch event on Monday, Mishra defended his ultimatum. “What other way is there to give an ultimatum in a democracy,” he asked, according to PTI. “I did that in front of a police official. Do people who want to start a riot give ultimatums in front of the police?”
The BJP leader alleged that the farmers’ protest was following “demonstration to riots” pattern, according to PTI. “It’s been a year since Jihadi forces engineered the riots in Delhi, last year,” Mishra claimed. “Exactly the same pattern is being seen even now, like what happened on Republic Day. The so-called fringe elements are trying to sabotage the peace in the Capital, aided and funded by anti-India forces, both within and outside the country.”
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi’s border points for nearly three months now, seeking the withdrawal of the agricultural laws passed in September. The protests had largely been peaceful but violence erupted on January 26, when a tractor rally planned to coincide with Republic Day celebrations turned chaotic. More than 100 protestors were arrested in connection with the violence and several are missing.
Earlier this month, a court in Delhi had directed the police to submit a report on a petition seeking a first information report against Mishra for his role in inciting the communal violence in Delhi.
The petition was filed by human rights activist Harsh Mander. He had also sought action against Mishra’s party colleagues Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma for allegedly making provocative speeches in the run up to the Delhi Assembly polls.
Thakur, in the run-up to the Delhi elections last February, had exhorted a crowd at a rally to shout “shoot the traitors”.
Verma, on the other hand, had told an audience that the “lakhs of protestors” at Shaheen Bagh would enter their homes to “rape their sisters and daughters and kill them”. Multiple videos were taken of all three incidents.
However, in an affidavit filed before the High Court in July last year, the Delhi Police said that “no actionable evidence” had been found yet to link the BJP leaders to the violence.