Haridwar Hindu Meet: Police Inaction Is a Recipe for Disaster
The police are accountable to the Constitution and to the rule of law, not to the manifesto of any political party.
The Quint DAILY
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Controversial Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand organised a three-day conference from 17 to 19 December in Haridwar, where problematic calls were made to kill minorities and attack their religious spaces. The event had speakers like Annapurna Maa, Dharamdas Maharaj from Bihar, Anand Swaroop Maharaj, Sagar Sindhuraj Maharaj, Swami Premanand Maharaj, and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay. While Upadhyay is infamous for organising a rally at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar where anti-Muslim slogans were chanted, Narsinghanand, the notorious priest of Dasna Devi temple in Ghaziabad, had earlier threatened the police amid reports that the 'Goonda Act' might be slapped against him. At the gathering, Upadhyay presented India’s Constitution in saffron colour to his "Gurudev" Narsinghanand.
Meanwhile, a video of Hindu right-wing groups, including the Hindu Yuva Vahini and Sudarshan News Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke, which emerged on social media on 22 December, showed them taking an oath to “fight, die and, if required, kill” in order to achieve a Hindu Rashtra (nation). He took the oath during an event organised in Delhi by the Hindu Yuva Vahini on 19 December.
Separately, in Gurugram, there has been a concerted and aggressive effort by Hindu right-wing groups to foment trouble and disrupt namaz prayers in public spaces, by heckling Muslims and raising slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram‘, Bharat Mata ki Jai’, or ‘Pura Gurgaon Baki Hai’. Despite repeated incidents, the police have been slow to act and bring to book the troublemakers, save for the arrest of one Dinesh Bharti.
Is the Administration Looking the Other Way?
I’m absolutely aghast at these events and the latest deliberations that took place at the Delhi and Haridwar conclaves, in which there was an open exhortation to attack Muslims. At Haridwar, there was also an appeal to purchase arms and mobilise against the community.
This is a very dangerous trend and needs to be not only nipped in the bud, but crushed in the bud. To vacillate under these circumstances would be to court a recipe for disaster.
My advice to the police would be to immediately register a case under Section 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), read with Section 153 (A) of the IPC and also invoke the provisions of the National Security Act.
Those giving incendiary and inflammatory speeches need to be booked immediately, without any further delay. A delay also gives the impression that the administration is looking the other way and giving them a long rope, which is unacceptable.
The police are accountable to the Constitution and to the rule of law, and not to the manifesto of any political party. Those who have been speaking and behaving like loose cannons need to be accounted for in public interest with immediate effect.
There are also those who are die-hard perverts, who speak irresponsibly, who are the champions of hate speech – they also need to be booked because if this is not done immediately, then it gives the impression that the administration is encouraging this kind of irresponsible behaviour, which goes against the norms of the Constitution and is provoking hatred among communities. Therefore, the provisions of the National Security Act pertaining to public order need to be invoked immediately.
Police Must Be Loyal to Law, Not Political Masters
It pains me to see the deterioration in our discourse. My generation was brought up on the principle that we are all equal, all children of the same almighty, and that to have hatred for anyone in thought, word and deed is a cardinal sin not only against humanity but against the heavenly father. I and my father are one – “Ana al-Haq, Aham Brahmasmi”. I am not a religious teacher, but it was ingrained that we are all children with the same legacy, we come from the same divinity, and shall end there. What is being taught is deep-rooted self-interest with depravity and perversion. The less said the better.
In service, my mentors were those who were unsparing when it came to law. We were taught not to please political masters but to abide by the Constitution. But the administration is still waiting to decide what action to take against the hatemongers in Haridwar. The state must act fast, as any further delay would not only embolden such Hindutva hatemongers, but also throw up questions about its own integrity.
(Dr Vikram Singh is an Indian educationist and retired Indian Police Service officer. He joined the IPS in 1974, and held the post of Director General of Police in the state of Uttar Pradesh during the period June 2007 – September 2009. This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for them.)
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