Nearly two weeks have passed since hundreds gathered in the capital city of Delhi to take an oath to "fight, die and if required, kill" in order to turn India into a 'Hindu Rashtra.'
These two weeks have been marred by an uncanny pattern of similar communal congregations – in Haridwar, Uttar Pradesh, and elsewhere – a patchwork of events that has attempted to cast a shroud on India's secular spirit.
At the same time, protests have been staged, international intervention has been recorded, and police action has been initiated – decrying the perpetrators that have posed a threat to the country's democratic values.
Here's a lowdown on what has happened in the past two weeks.
Genocidal Call to Arms at Haridwar, Oath to Kill in Delhi
Rabid hate speeches, targeting minorities, were delivered by a number of Hindutva leaders at a three-day conclave held in the pilgrimage city of Haridwar from 17-19 December.
The event, organised by the controversial Hindutva leader and the root of many complaints, Yati Narsinghanand, saw multiple calls to incite violence against and kill minorities.
At the same time, a video emerged from Delhi where Hindu right-wing groups, including Hindu Yuva Vahini, could be seen leading a saffron-clad crowd in the following oath:
“We take an oath and make a resolution that till our last breath, we will fight, die for and if need be, kill, to make this country a Hindu rashtra and keep this country a Hindu rashtra.”
Rajeshwar Singh, the Minister of State in Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, was the chief guest at the event.
Sudarshan News Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke acknowledged his presence at the Hindu Yuva Vahini's event on Twitter, posting a video of the oath on his account. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was tagged in the post.
Meanwhile, at another 'Dharam Sansad' in Chhattisgarh's Raipur, a Hindu religious leader, 'Sant' Kalicharan, delivered a derogatory speech against minorities and Mahatma Gandhi.
'Where Is Sedition, UAPA Now?': Rage Over Communal Events Sparks Protests
'Doesn't it fall under UAPA?" a unit of the Congress party asked, alluding to the Delhi assembly on Twitter, tagging Home Minister Amit Shah.
Similar questions were raised by other politicians, activists, and citizens, who termed the speeches made in Delhi and Haridwar as a call for 'ethnic cleansing' and 'Muslim genocide.'
Many opined that the videos of the events carried ample evidence to provide grounds for a case under anti-terror or sedition laws.
Protesters gathered at the Uttarakhand Sadan in Delhi on 27 December, to demonstrate against the incendiary remarks pronounced in Haridwar.
Activist Shabnam Hashmi, speaking to The Quint at the agitation, said, "We want the organisers to be arrested. It is appalling that 10 days have passed but no action has been taken... Imagine if a Sikh, Muslim, or Christian had made that statement."
No Arrests Yet: Police Takes Little Action
While the outrage over the communal assemblies has stirred the police into action, the steps taken by them till now can only be described as far too little and much too late.
Five days after the conclave in Haridwar, on 23 December, the Uttarakhand Police finally registered a case against Wasim Rizvi alias Jitendra Narayan Tyagi and unnamed others under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (punishment promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, etc).
The names of Annapurna Maa alias Pooja Shakun Pandey, who is the ‘Mahamandaleshwar’ of the Niranjani Akhada and general secretary of Hindu Mahasabha, and Bihar resident Dharamdas Maharaj were added to the FIR two days later.
However, no arrests have been made in the case so far.
As for the Delhi assembly, a complaint has been filed against the editor-in-chief of Sudarshan News Suresh Chavhanke for his hate speech at the event, and for the oath administered, as per LiveLaw. The Delhi Police, however, is yet to register an FIR based on the complaint.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, speaking to The Quint, said, "The police is completely politicised. Therefore, there is nothing which one can expect... They are not acting in accordance with law. So, naturally, when they are compelled to act, they will act in as weak a manner if possible."
Not Giving Hate Speech: Narsinghanand Justifies Himself
Despite coming under fire for his comments, Narsinghanand took to social media on 24 December, to justify his stance and went on to make some more venomous comments about the minority community and Mahatma Gandhi.
"When the Pandavas fought back, and Lord Krishna educated them in what is now the Bhagavad Gita, now if you ask these hypocrites, they will say that Lord Krishna gave a hate speech. He had encouraged Arjun to kill the Kauravas. It is the responsibility of everyone in this world that they protect their religion and people," the controversial religious figure said in a YouTube live.
"I am not giving a hate speech. If you find even a single thing that I have said is false, then hang me! I am saying the same thing to all the Maulanas. Let's meet and debate. If you find we are wrong, you don't cut our heads. We will do it ourselves....," he added.
76 Supreme Court Lawyers Write to CJI
Seventy-six advocates of the Supreme Court on 26 December wrote to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, asking the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognisance of the open calls for genocide at the events in Delhi and Haridwar.
"The aforementioned events and the speeches delivered during the same are not mere hate speeches but amount to an open call for murder of an entire community. The said speeches, thus, pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens," the letter noted.
International Media Shames India, Pakistan Condemns Govt Inaction
Pakistan on 28 December summoned India’s Charge D’Affaires to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, over their Pakistan government's concerns regarding the hate speeches in Haridwar.
"It was impressed upon the Government of India that it was highly reprehensible that the Hindutva figures who called for ethnic cleansing have neither expressed any regret nor the Indian government has condemned or taken any action against them so far," the Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement.
Meanwhile, notable foreign media outlets such as The New York Times and the BBC have criticised the animosity-inciting congregations.
Accused Hindutva Leaders in Haridwar Case File Police Complaint
Meanwhile, in a bizarre turn of events, Hindutva leaders, including two accused in the Haridwar conclave case – Yati Narsinghanand and Annapurna Maa, on 28 December lodged a complaint against Muslim clerics and the Quran with the Haridwar police, alleging a conspiracy.
SHO of Haridwar's Kotwali Nagar Rakender Singh told The Quint, "We had gone to give them notice about two cases. That's when they said they wanted to submit a police complaint themselves. If they wish to submit one, we have to take it. But no FIR has been filed on it."
A video of the complaint submission, that has surfaced on social media, has come under the fire for allegedly depicting police bias.
"You should send a message that you are not biased. You are a public officer and you should be constitutional, carry out equal justice for all," sadhvi Annapurna can be heard telling the police officer in the video, as they hand over their complaint.
However, Narsinghanand quips, "Ladka humare taraf hoga (he will be on our side)."
The video shows that those present then break out into laughter, while the police officer smiles.
School Children, Other Citizens Take Oath in Various Cities
While appropriate stringent police action is awaited against the hate-mongering pontificators from the Delhi and Haridwar assemblies, it appears that the storm is far from over.
An oath to murder for a Hindu rashtra, identical to the one taken in Delhi previously, had been administered to school students in Nagpur and Rupaidiha, Sudarshan News' Suresh Chavhanke shared on Twitter.
To make matters worse, multiple such oath-taking events "to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra (nation)" were held across the country, videos of which have been shared by Sudarshan News and its editor-in-chief Suresh Chavhanke on their official Twitter handles.
On Tuesday, 28 December, Sudarshan News shared two videos of such oath-taking 'ceremonies' at Rupaidiha in UP and in Nagpur.
The Promise of More to Come
Most recently, at a meeting of various Akhada leaders and right-wing Hindu seers organised in Haridwar on 28 December, a core committee of 21 leaders was formed, with the intent to step up their campaign.
Undeterred by the cases filed against them or the censure they have elicited, the Hindutva leaders told The India Cable, “We are holding three more sansads in Aligarh, Kurukshetra and Shimla. This is our freedom of speech. Akhadas are an army of the religion. Islam is an armed gang. You can fight them only with arms."
And the unmissable presence of leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at these 'Dharam Sansads' only cheers the Hindutva leaders to make good on their promise.
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