19 December 2021. Anti-Muslim hate speech event in Delhi’s Govindpuri.
3 April 2022. Anti-Muslim hate speech event at Delhi’s Burari.
4 September 2022. Anti-Muslim hate speech event at Delhi’s Badarpur.
9 October 2022. Anti-Muslim hate speech event at Delhi’s Dilshad Garden.
And this is not an exhaustive list. There have been several other such events in the national capital in the past couple of years.
So, how many anti-Muslim hate speech events will it take for the Delhi Police to actually act against it with the seriousness it deserves?
Through the course of this article, we will take you through how the Delhi Police’s inaction may be enabling more such hate speech events to take place in the capital.
Let’s start with how the Delhi Police treated Sudarshan News chief Suresh Chavhanke with kid gloves while probing his call for violence during an event in December 2021.
When the Delhi Police Tried To Give a Free Pass to Suresh Chavhanke
Do you recall the viral video of Suresh Chavhanke administering an oath to make India a Hindu Rashtra at a December 2021 event in Delhi?
Here’s the video in case you don’t.
While administering the oath, Chavhanke went so far as to urge people to kill if it would help India become a Hindu Rashtra.
After probing the matter, the Delhi Police declared in its report to the Supreme Court in April 2022, “Nothing was said or done which could create an environment of paranoia amongst any religion, cast (sic) or creed.”
The police further said, “There was no hate speech against any particular section of the society or the community.”
That’s not all. Defending Chavhanke’s speech, the Delhi Police added, “The speech was about empowering one’s religion to prepare itself to face the evils which could endanger its existence…”
Referring to the complainant, the Delhi Police noted, “We must practice tolerance to the views of others. Intolerance is as much dangerous to democracy as to the person himself.”
Displeased with the Delhi Police’s report, the Supreme Court asked the cops to file a better affidavit. Noting that the affidavit had been filed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, the bench asked, “We want to know that the senior officer has understood the nuances of other aspects before filing this affidavit. Has he merely reproduced inquiry report or applied his mind? Do you want to take a relook?”
The affidavit had been filed by Esha Pandey, DCP Southeast Delhi.
Post the SC’s rap, the Delhi Police registered a fresh case against Chavhanke regarding the incident.
In the new affidavit, the police said that an FIR had been filed on 4 May 2022 under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code:
153A (promoting enmity between different groups on the basis of religion, race, etc.)
295A (deliberate acts intended to outrage religious feelings)
298 (uttering words, etc., with deliberate intent, to wound the religious feelings of any person)
34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention)
The Quint has reached out to the Delhi Police to find out where their probe into the matter stands now, nine and a half months since the incident and more than five months since the filing of the FIR on 4 May.
The Burari Hate Speech Event
On 3 April 2022, an event titled Hindu Mahapanchayat held in Delhi’s Burari saw a number of anti-Muslim hate speeches being made, including by Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand and Sudarshan News chief Suresh Chavhanke.
The Delhi Police’s handling of this event is an apt example of their kid gloves approach to hate speech events.
Late on Saturday, 2 April, DCP North West Delhi Usha Rangnani had told The Quint that permission for the Hindu Mahapanchayat in Burari had been denied. According to Rangnani, the landowning authority of the Burari Ground - the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) - had not given a go-ahead for the Hindu Mahapanchayat event due to existing work going on in the area.
Even before the Delhi Police said that permission for the event had been rejected, one of the organisers had told The Quint on 31 March that the event would take place regardless of police permission.
Arvind Tyagi, a key functionary of the Save India Foundation and one of the 'Hindu Mahapanchayat' organisers, had remarked, "How will the programme be cancelled? People have made arrangements to come for the event. So, even if the police deny permission for the event, the event will still take place."
And indeed, when this reporter reached the venue on Sunday, 3 April, at around 9:30 am, there was a large stage and a full-scale shamiana that had been put up by the event organisers, and there were already multiple police vehicles and police personnel present at the venue.
At the venue, the police did not make any attempt to stop the event from taking place despite them not having given permission for the Hindu Mahapanchayat to be held.
The organisers of the event, the Save India Foundation (SIF) and its president Preet Singh, went ahead with their programme. Incidentally, at the time, Preet Singh was himself out on bail in relation to a case of hate speech at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar in August 2021.
After significant outrage on social media regarding several journalists being assaulted and manhandled by a Hindutva mob at the event, including this reporter, the Delhi Police filed at least three FIRs pertaining to the event.
Two of the FIRs pertained to journalists stating that they were physically assaulted and manhandled by mobs of Mahapanchayat attendees.
The third was related to the anti-Muslim hate speeches made by speakers at the event including Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand and Sudarshan News editor Suresh Chavhanke. The FIR applied Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc.) of the Indian Penal Code. (Incidentally, Narsinghanand’s hate speech also violated his bail conditions in a Haridwar Dharam Sansad hate speech case.)
However, more than six months since the event at Burari, there is no action reported to have been taken against either Narsinghanand or Chavhanke in the hate speech case so far.
And both of them continue making hate speeches unabated. Chavhanke, for example, gave a rabidly anti-Muslim speech at another hate speech event in Delhi, which was organised by the Hindutva outfit ‘Hindu Ecosystem’ on 4 September 2022. Among other communally charged diatribes, Chavhanke also raised the anti-Muslim bogey of ‘UPSC jihad’ again at the event, on which he had previously aired multiple episodes on his channel Sudarshan News.
On 15 September 2020, the Supreme Court had ordered that Sudarshan News cannot air any further episodes of editor Suresh Chavhanke's show about 'UPSC Jihad' (or any similar content) till further orders from the court. In its order, the court had said, “At this stage, prima facie, it does appear to the court that the object intended by the broadcast of the show is to vilify the Muslim community. Several statements are palpably erroneous.”
“Any attempt to vilify a community must be viewed with disfavour by this court as a protector of Constitutional values,” Justice Chandrachud had said, while dictating the order.
For the Burari event, the Delhi Police filed an FIR pertaining to the hate speeches but made no arrests. But for the Badarpur event, there was no police action whatsoever, not even an FIR.
Would the lack of arrests after hate speeches at events such as the Hindu Mahapanchayat in Burari and the Hindu Ecosystem event at Badarpur not embolden Hindutva leaders to organise more such gatherings and make more such hate speeches?
The Virat Hindu Sabha Event: Clear Hate Speech, Boast About Role in Delhi Riots, but What’s the FIR For?
On 9 October 2022, for example, at a public event titled ‘Virat Hindu Sabha’ held in Delhi’s Dilshad Garden, a string of BJP lawmakers and Hindutva leaders made multiple anti-Muslim hate speeches.
"Dadri mein ek suar maara jaata hai gaay kaatne waala Akhlaq, toh waha saare ke saare Rahul Gandhi se lekar Akhilesh aur Arvind Kejriwal aise rote hai jaise inka damaad mar gaya ho. (When a pig named Akhlaq who killed cows was murdered in Dadri, then everyone from Rahul Gandhi to Akhilesh and Arvind Kejriwal cried as if their own son-in-law had died.)"
Those were the words of Nandkishor Gurjar, BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Loni, during his speech at the Virat Hindu Sabha.
Seemingly boasting about killing Muslims during the northeast Delhi riots of 2020, Gurjar also said, “We were accused of entering Delhi with 2500 people during the Delhi riots. Police filed cases against us accusing us of killing jihadis. We will kill jihadis, we will always kill jihadis, we won’t kill those who say Bharat Mata ki jai and believe that Bhagwan Shri Ram is their ancestor.”
Then there was Parvesh Verma, BJP MP from West Delhi and repeat hate speech offender, who urged the gathering to allegedly completely boycott Muslims. Verma said, “Wherever you see them, I am telling you, if you have to fix their mentality, then you must completely boycott them. We will not buy anything from their shops. We will not give them any employment.”
There were alleged calls for anti-Muslim violence made at the event as well. Hindutva leader Yogeshwar Acharya exhorted the crowd, “They don’t just have one, they have many. They want to have 14 marriages and give birth to 40 children. We must pay attention to such activities and must identify them and kill them one by one.”
What action has the Delhi Police taken on these hate speeches and public calls to violence?
They have filed an FIR against the organisers under IPC Section 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by public servant) for not taking permission from the police.
After videos of the hate speeches began circulating on social media on Sunday, 9 October, a senior police officer had told The Indian Express, “We are analysing the footage. We have received complaints about the event at Ramlila Maidan, Dilshad Garden and are looking into the matter.”
But so far, the Delhi Police seems to have only filed an FIR over the organisers of the event not taking permission for the event.
Does the Delhi Police not find the contents of the hate speeches and calls to violence delivered at the event worthy of FIRs and arrests?
Now, with several such events in front of us over the past couple of years, it is not difficult to trace the pattern of the Delhi Police’s actions (or lack of them) on matters of Hindutva hate speech.
If you’ve read this far, you can surely see it too.
The Quint has reached out to the Delhi Police for responses regarding their actions in the cases mentioned above. This article will be updated with their response if and when they reply.