Delhi police closes complaints against alleged hate speeches in Delhi, after its probe divulged absence of any community as their target

THE Delhi police has informed the Supreme Court that it has closed all the complaints made in respect of the alleged hate speeches made at the Hindu Yuva Vahini event held in Delhi in December last year as the same, “after a deep inquiry” by the police, did not disclose any hate words against a particular community as alleged by the complainants. It added that none of the words which were spoken during the events in any manner whatsoever overtly and explicitly described Indian Muslims as usurpers of territory, and as predators of land, livelihoods and of Hindu women, and nothing was said or done which could create an environment of paranoia among any religion, caste or creed.

According to the affidavit filed by the Delhi police in the case, a bare perusal of the complaints made, and the statements which are alleged to be offensive, divulged that no specific words against any community, let alone a particular community, were uttered by those who gathered, thus justifying the closure of the case.

The affidavit was filed in response to a notice issued by the Supreme Court on January 12 this year on a petition seeking action against the speakers and organisations of the ‘Dharm Sansad‘ in Haridwar and Delhi last year where alleged hate speeches were made against the Muslim community.

The affidavit added that the police, after carrying out a preliminary inquiry on the complaints and after examining the video link and attached video in respect of the alleged hate speech delivered in Delhi, found that no such words as mentioned by the complainant in his complaint have been used. In particular, the police mentioned that the complaint against Sudarshan News chief Suresh Chavhanke did not divulge any hate speech.

There is no use of such words which mean or could be interpreted as “open calls for genocide of Muslims in order to achieve ethnic cleansing or an open call for the murder of an entire community” in the speech, the affidavit claimed.

The police asserted that the fundamental freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) can be reasonably restricted only for the purposes mentioned in Article 19(2), and the restriction must be justified on the anvil of necessity.

The police asserted that we must practise tolerance for the views of others, as intolerance is as much dangerous to democracy as to the person himself. The police alleged that the petitioner tried to draw an incorrect and a broad inference through isolated passages, disregarding the main theme and its message.

Besides, the police has raised objections to the maintainability of the petition citing that the petitioner has not resorted to the alternative remedies available to him.

Petitioner Qurban Ali, a senior tri-lingual (Hindi, Urdu and English) journalist with more than 35 years of experience, has flagged two events where hate speeches were delivered: one in Haridwar, organised by the head of the Dasna Devi temple in Uttar Pradesh, Yati Narsinghanand, and another in Delhi by an organization self-styled as ‘Hindu Yuva Vahini’. These events were held between December 17 and 19 last year.

The plea contends that the hate speeches delivered at these events consisted of open calls for genocide of Muslims in order to achieve ethnic cleansing, and that such speeches 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 plea alleges inaction on the part of the police authorities in taking action against those responsible for giving the hate speeches. It says that despite the passage of almost three weeks, no effective steps were taken by the police authorities, including the application of Sections 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 121A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by section 121) and 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) of the Indian Penal Code [IPC] that squarely apply to the hate speeches.

It points out that the police authorities have registered two first information reports [FIRs] against ten people who took part in the Haridwar Dharm Sansad, but even in the said FIRs, only Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs) and 298 (uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person) of the IPC have been invoked.

It also brings to the notice of the court a video wherein one of the speakers at the Haridwar event openly acknowledged the police officers’ allegiance with the organizers and speakers of the Dharm Sansad. The plea, thus, contends that not only did the inaction of the police allow the delivery of hate speeches with impunity, but also shows that the police authorities are in fact hand in glove with the perpetrators of communal hate.

On Wednesday the matter was heard by a bench comprising Justices A.M Khanwikar and Abhay S. Oka, which directed the Uttrakhand police to file a status report in the matter. The matter will be heard on April 22.