"Bahut hua sanatan par vaar, ab nahi sahenge vaar. Sanataniyo baahar aao. Maro ya maar daalo. Baad mein dekhi jayegi. Bahut hua. Ab jiska khoon na khaula, khoon nahi wo paani hai (Enough attacks on Hinduism. We won't tolerate such attacks anymore. Hindus, come out. Die or kill. Rest shall be seen later. If your blood hasn't boiled even now, it's not blood but it is water).”
This is what self-styled Hindutva leader Ragini Tiwari alias Janki Behen, said on a Facebook live video near Maujpur on 23 February 2020, less than a day before communal violence erupted northeast Delhi.
The video went viral and several media outlets labelled her as one of the faces of the riots.
Watch till the end to hear the quote from above.
Less than four months later, Ragini Tiwari's Facebook account can’t be traced. Her name also finds no mention in the detailed chronology provided by the Delhi Police in their charge sheet that outlines the various speeches and events that led up to the riots.
In the same video, Tiwari can be seen saying, “Kaat daalo, jo bhi hai, kaat daalo... Bhimti hai kya? (Cut him up, whoever it is, cut him up. Is he a Bhimta - a disrespectful term used for Babasaheb Ambedkar’s supporters?)” when someone, who presumably seemed like he was from the Bhim Army, came into her line of sight.
However, The Quint has learnt that Tiwari's actions in the run-up to the violence didn't just end with these remarks. She was present in the area well through the night on 23 February, until the early hours of the next day when the riots began to ravage Delhi.
The Quint has accessed a detailed account of someone who has claimed to be an eyewitness to what happened in the area, including some of Tiwari's alleged actions from 23 February.
The name of the "eyewitness" is being withheld due to safety concerns.
But this account has been signed and submitted to SHO Gokulpuri Police Station, with copies sent to the Prime Minister of India, the home minister, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Delhi's Commissioner of Police, Joint Commissioner of Police, the area's Deputy Commissioner of Police, the National Human Right's Commission as well as the National Commission for Minorities.
The statement has a police stamp saying, “received on 19/03/20”.
Here are excerpts from what the person has said in the signed statement:
“At around 9 PM (on 23 February) I saw Ragini Tiwari come in a car with some people. The people accompanying were carrying big guns and she began giving her speech. Often while making people chant slogans, she would fire bullets in the air, after which the mob began losing control.”Signed statement from a person claiming to be an eyewitness
“Then at around 10 PM near Mohan Nursing Home, where she was giving her speech, the mob was chanting slogans Ragini Tiwari Zindabad" "Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro saalo ko (shoot the traitors)", "Musalmaano ke do hi sthan, Pakistan ya qabristan (there are only two places for Muslims – Pakistan and the graveyard)" and vitiating the atmosphere.
Ragini Tiwari was the first to shoot at us and it hit the head of a boy who was standing there. This caused confusion. After this, there was stone pelting and firing. This is when I ran home.”
The Quint has not been able to independently verify these claims.
A story by ABP News confirms a few aspects of this statement, most importantly the timing. The news story confirms that Tiwari was indeed present in the area until the time claimed by the statement. In fact the ABP News report shows that she was there until early morning.
The news story doesn’t, however, does not talk about Tiwari shooting in the air. It also leaves out the part from earlier on 23 February where Tiwari can be seen saying “Maro Ya Maaro” and “Kaat daalo”.
However, the story makes an important revelation - that Ragini Tiwari was also blocking the road along with her supporters. This is a claim that was also confirmed by Tiwari to these reporters.
However, despite that, it has not been mentioned in the police charge sheets which have been assessed by The Quint. The police narrative has been that only one side was blocking the road.
'Tiwari Campaigned for BJP Candidate in Delhi'
Not much is known about Tiwari except that she originally hails from Bihar and claims to be a proud "Maithili", a language spoken in the Northern and Eastern Part of Bihar. However, much of her political work is focused in Delhi. In an interview given to News24 on 29 February, Tiwari says isn't associated with any political party.
In another video, she herself claims that she campaigned for BJP candidate from Laxmi Nagar Abhay Verma in the Assembly elections in Delhi earlier this year.
This video statement by her indicates that while she admires Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she is critical of much of the political party's Delhi leadership, especially former state unit chief Manoj Tiwari and East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir.
“We are with you Modi ji, crack the whip on the MPs and councillors from Delhi,” she says in the video.
According to another report she claims to be a follower of self styled preacher Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, who made several controversial videos in January and February this year, allegedly calling for violence against CAA protesters.
Tiwari Responds to Allegations
The Quint reached out to Ragini Tiwari for her side of the story. When asked why she made the provocative statements in the video shared widely, she not only explained that they were blocking the road but that she was allegedly injured, “First get your hands on another video from the day when we were blocking the road and some people came and told me that stones and glasses were being thrown. I hurried towards the direction where people were walking ahead with stones etc where I have been injured. First see that and then ask me this question,” she says. When requested to share a copy of this video she clarified that Facebook shut her profile down.
Regarding the allegations against Ragini of shooting and injuring someone, she says they were ‘baseless allegations’.
We also asked her if she had campaigned for BJP candidate Abhay Verma and if she had campaigned for anyone else, she said, “I am the daughter of Maithili and he is also from there. Other than that I have no interest in any other party.” Tiwari also said she did not know about the complaint and was hearing about it for the first time from The Quint.
Response Sought from Delhi Police
The Quint also contacted Delhi Police PRO MS Randhawa and DCP North East Delhi Ved Prakash Surya, asking them if the police is investigating the allegations against Tiwari or if there was an FIR lodged against her. But neither of the two officials responded. The story will be updated as and when they respond.
We also reached out to the concerned SHO of Jaffrabad police station who said he did not have information about this complaint, “I came to this post very late, it has only been a month and a half, I do not know anything about this complaint,” he abruptly cut the phone after saying this.
Just to reiterate, we have withheld the name of the person who has written the statement for safety reasons but we would be happy to share the entire signed statement with the police if called upon to do so.