Activists from as many as 14 civil society organisations, including women's organisations have filed a complaint with the Karnataka Director General of Police (DGP) against alleged communal hate speech by Sharan Pumpwell, a leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), asking for an FIR to be registered against him.
Sharan Pumpwell, in a press briefing on 9 August in Mangaluru, threatened the Muslim community while accusing the community of shielding terrorists and supporting "love jihad".
"I am giving a straightforward warning to those involved in 'love jihad' activities and supporting it and helping these 'anti-social elements'. This must be stopped immediately. We will be protesting against these incidents and if this continues, in the future, it may [result in] a protest, or even a fight or clash. For all the incidents in the future, you (Muslim community) are responsible for it," a clip of Sharan from the event shows him as saying.
In the complaint, activists sought registration of an FIR against Sharan, and said that the language used in the press conference was an “assault on the Constitution, democracy, and secularism.”
“He further goes on to make baseless and grave allegations of Hindu women being used for terrorist activities and sex trade,” the letter states, adding that these statements were fuelled solely by “communal hatred”.
The activists said that the Pumpwell's hate speech needs to be seen from the context of various hate speech incidents across the country, while stating that such blatant demonisation and dehumanisation of the Muslim community in Karnataka and country would be an affront for to the rule of law and very spirit of Indian constitution.
Quoting Justice DY Chandrachud’s judgment in the Hadiya case, the activists state said that the right to marry a person of choice is integral to the Article 21 of the Constitution and society has no role to play in determining choice of partner.
The activists said that the constant discourse around the “love jihad” bogey seeks to criminalise women's rights to love while infantilising them by divesting their right to consent and enter into romantic relationships of their own accord.
The representatives have met the Additional DGP (Law and Order) Pratap Reddy and submitted the complaint, who assured to speak to the Commissioner of Police, Mangalore and take necessary action in the concerned matter.
Activists said that intolerant statements by individuals like Pumpwell against Muslim community is an attempt to criminalise social interactions between Hindus and Muslims and actively push (Muslim) community into the margins of the society.
“It is pertinent to note that Sharan Pumpwell has several criminal investigations pending against him and it is appalling that such an individual has been afforded an opportunity to address press conferences despite these cases. Even more importantly, several cases of hate speech have been filed as a response to legitimate expressions of dissent but few FIRs have been filed against those who make hate speeches with impunity. In this light, we demand that the state acts expediently against these divisive forces,” the letter said.
The activists demanded that there should be an FIR against Sharan Pumpwell and other organisers of the press conference under sections 153A (attempt to promote enmity, disharmony, hatred between religious groups), 153B and C, 295A (criminalising words written or spoken with deliberate and malicious intent of outraging religious feelings), and 505(2) (criminalising publication or circulation of any statement or report containing rumours/alarming news with an intent to create or likely to promote feelings of hatred, enmity or ill-will between religious groups or communities).
(This article was first published in The News Minute and republished here with permission.)