A year after violence broke out in the national capital, which claimed the lives of nearly 50 people and rendered thousands of people homeless, BJP leader Kapil Mishra spoke to news website The Wire about what transpired in Delhi in the months of January and February in 2020.
He spoke about the aftermath of the violence, the anti-CAA protests, his speech at the Maujpur traffic signal, but during the course of his 51-minute long interview, Mishra reiterated some of the misleading claims which have been debunked by fact-checkers repeatedly.
While responding to answers, Mishra asserted that he is proud of what he did on 23 February 2020 and said “if it happens like that again, I will do that again”, a statement that he had made in an earlier interview with The Indian Express.
Mishra, who had led a pro-CAA rally in Northeast Delhi on 23 February 2020, had warned the administration that if they don't clear the anti-CAA protesters, Mishra and his men would themselves take to the streets.
In fact, The Wire’s reporters – Ismat Ara and Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta – also corrected some of Mishra’s claims during the interview. Here’s a look at some of the factually incorrect claims which have not been substantiated with any evidence by Mishra.
CLAIM 1: DELHI GOVERNMENT IS HELPING JUST ONE COMMUNITY
On being questioned about his politics and why he supports the victims of one community and not the other, Mishra says that he is helping the community which has been ignored by everyone else insinuating that the government is only helping the Muslims through the Waqf Board.
However, The Quint found that Mishra’s claims do not have the backing of facts. Soon after the violence, the Delhi government announced compensation for the victims irrespective of their religion.
According to news reports, compensation worth more than Rs 26 crore has been given so far to 2,221 riot victims. However, lawyers and journalists, who are closely tracking the relief work, claim that the disbursement has been slow and many families haven’t received any compensation even though their names features in the government list of beneficiaries who have received the money.
Further, while the Waqf Board was indeed involved in relief work, not all help was routed through the body. According to a report by The Hindu, Supreme Court Judge Justice Surya Kant in November 2020 inaugurated the North East Delhi Riots Claims Commission (NEDRCC) for providing compensation to victims of the violence.
Speaking to The Quint, Sharma’s brother confirmed that the family has received compensation from the Delhi government. We also spoke to the father of Rahul Solanki, 26-year-old resident of Babu Nagar, who died during the riots. His father too confirmed that the family received compensation from the Delhi government.
On conditions of anonymity, a lawyer closely tracking the relief activities of government also said that there there have been no reported instances of religious bias in the Delhi government aid, but the disbursement has been slow.
While there are several reports by different media houses, over a course of one year, which hint at discrepancies in the Delhi government’s relief scheme, there is no credible report pointing at a religious bias in providing relief.
CLAIM 2: MISHRA SAYS VIDEO OF MEN, WHO WERE FORCED TO SING NATIONAL ANTHEM, IS FAKE!
While speaking about the Delhi riots, the reporter refers to the video of five injured men, who were asked to sing the national anthem, while personnel in police gear were seen heckling and hurling abuses at them. Mishra rebuts and says, “Don’t talk about fake stories”.
However, there is nothing “fake” about this story. The video went viral on social media on 25 February 2020. Faizan, a resident of Kardampuri, was one of these five injured men, and he later succumbed to his injures at Lok Nayak Hospital on 27 February.
The Joint Commissioner of Police (Jt CP) Alok Kumar had then told The Quint that an FIR was registered in the case of Faizan’s death, listing murder charges against ‘Unknown People’.
According to a news report published in The Indian Express on 2 February 2021, Delhi Police told the High Court that they are trying to ascertain the identity of the personnel seen in the video. They further said that till now only one policeman has been “pinpointed on probable basis”.
CLAIM 3: HARSH MANDER ASKED PEOPLE TO COME TO THE STREETS
Mishra also goes on to claim during the anti-CAA protests, activist Harsh Mander said that Parliament can’t help us, we will have to take to the streets now.
However, this statement is based on a clipped video of Mander which was circulated and tweeted by the likes of BJP IT Cell Head Amit Malviya in 2020. Several fact-checkers, including The Quint’s WebQoof team, had debunked this claim back then.
In reality, Mander addressed the students of Jamia Milia Islamia University on 16 December 2019, after violence erupted in the university campus and had said, “We are saying that this is one country, Hindustan, and the Hindus, Muslims, Sikh, Christians, Budhists, atheists, Adivasis, Dalits, rich, poor, man, woman, of this country have equal rights. And whoever asks you this question, and claims that your rights will be taken away, a movement has started to protest against them, and to save our country's Constitution and the soul of our Constitution, and the love and the solidarity, we have taken to the streets and will continue to do so. This fight can't be won in the parliament because our political parties, that claim to be secular, they don't have that moral courage to fight anymore.”
He then went on to add, “But even beyond roads, there is one more place where this will be decided. At which place, will the decision be taken? That place is in our hearts. In my heart, in your heart. If they want to fill us with hatred, and if we respond to them with hatred only, then the amount of hatred will just deepen.”
However, this statement was taken out of context and was massively circulated.
Throughout the interview, Mishra is seen defending his hate speech during the anti-CAA protests. At one instance, Mishra also denies raising slogans targeting students of Jamia Milia Islamia. However, he is quick to correct himself as he is presented with visual evidence by the reporters.
In addition to justifying his hate speech, he uses false narrative, and also indulges in whataboutery.
Fake news and misinformation were used to fan communal tensions in northeast Delhi during the riots. Kapil Mishra has been a repeat fake news offender and several of his claims around the violence have been debunked by The Quint and other fact-checking websites.