EVEN two weeks after the hate-mongering dharma sansad in Haridwar on December 17 to 19, where calls were given to attack Muslims and eliminate them by mass murder, there has not been a single arrest. The first FIR lodged had only one name, that too of a Muslim who converted to Hinduism. Subsequently, after another FIR was filed, four more names were added including that of Yati Narsinghanand, the organiser of the event.
On January 1, the Uttarakhand police had announced a special investigation team (SIT) to investigate the matter and the police officer-in-charge, when asked if arrests would be made, stated that if the investigation found any solid evidence, then arrests may follow.
The evidence is all there in the public domain. The event had been live-streamed and videos of the speeches widely circulated. They all show speaker after speaker, calling for arms to be taken up, the massacre of Muslims, cleansing the villages off them and one speaker even saying that he would have shot prime minister Manmohan Singh with a revolver if he had had the opportunity to do so.
The speeches do not constitute just ‘hate speech’, but are an open incitement to violence and ethnic cleansing. But the Uttarakhand police is still looking for solid evidence. The FIR lodged under Section 153A of the IPC is that of an offence of provoking disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred between different groups on the grounds of religion. The crime committed is much more.
The organiser and participants of the dharma sansad seemed unconcerned about the FIR lodged in the case. A week later, on December 28, swamis of various akhadas met and formed a core committee of 21 members, which included Narsinghanand and five others who were at the sansad. They resolved to continue their fight against Islam and went to the extent of filing a complaint at the Haridwar Kotwali police station against the Quran and a number of maulanas and imams of the city.
They claimed that the dharma sansad was a step in the direction of making India a `Hindu Rashtra’. Accompanying the call to fight Islam was the iteration that akhadas would be centres for arms training and armed groups to defend Hindu dharma.
If anything, under the present law, this is a case of sedition as per the Supreme Court interpretation that the sedition clause was applicable only when there is a call or incitement to violence.
The Haridwar episode has made certain things clear. The men and women in saffron, who made the anti-Muslim speeches and call for violence to eliminate them are not some fringe elements. They represent the mainstream of the Hindutva forces, which include the RSS and the BJP. That they have State patronage is evident from a picture that has emerged of the Uttarakhand chief minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, touching the feet of one of the inciters at the sansad, Swami Prabodhanand.
The Haridwar event is part of the speeches and rhetoric of the leaders of the RSS outfits and the BJP that are taking place with greater frequency - from Yogi Adityanath’s constant Muslim baiting speeches to the BJP MP, Tejasvi Surya’s recent call to use mutts and temples to reconvert to Hinduism those who had been converted to Islam and Christianity. These are not just ‘hate speeches’ in the realm of rhetoric but it is being translated daily into acts of violence and intimidation of Muslims and Christians on the ground. Ordinary Muslims have been subjected to violent attacks in public places – street vendors, itinerant trades’ people and auto-rickshaw drivers – in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The attacks on Christians and their places of worship in Karnataka have become a common occurrence.
The Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other outfits of the RSS, the sadhus of the dharma sansad and sundry elected representatives of the BJP in various states – they are all part of the Hindutva army out to subvert the Constitution and the institutions of the State in their quest to enforce a Hindu Rashtra.
It is regrettable that some of the secular opposition parties are unable to grasp the enormity of the danger posed by the fascistic Hindutva forces. Some issued statements of disapproval or condemnation while some others sought to avoid the issue given that elections are around the corner in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Not just condemnation in words but concerted united action is the need. When the BJP-ruled states are letting these forces run amok, it becomes the duty of the secular and democratic forces to unitedly rebuff and counter these forces.