New Delhi: Delhi BJP leader Kapil Mishra has started a campaign to raise funds for the Hindu victims of the Delhi communal riots and their families, as well as those whose homes and businesses were damaged.
Mishra is crowdfunding through Milaap.org, and tweeting with the hashtags #1CroreforDelhiHindu and #1CroreforDelhiHindus. He has been providing regular updates on his Twitter feed, and retweeting virtually every tweet showing that someone has donated to the campaign, in which he is tagged.
Mishra, who was accused of instigating the riots, had tweeted a video to accompany the crowdfunding campaign, which he later deleted. However, he retweeted another user’s post with the video, in which he begins by saying: “Doston, 24 aur 25 February ko Dilli mein jo dange hue, unmein 15 parivaaron ne apnon ko khoya hai… 15 Hindu parivaaron ne. (Friends, in the riots that took place in Delhi on 24 and 25 February, 15 families lost their own… 15 Hindu families).”
— लक्ष्मण भाटी टीम CYB राजस्थान (@LSBjodhpur) March 17, 2020
In the video, Mishra also claimed that the “international media and big NGOs” weren’t keen to show the harm that has been caused to the “unprivileged families”. He also gave out a WhatsApp number, but there was no response to messages sent by ThePrint to this number, while a WhatsApp call was declined.
The campaign began on 28 February, under the name ‘Help Victims of Delhi Riots’, stating that “this Holi is devoid of colors (sic) for the families whose members fell victim to the Delhi riots. Delhi saw one of the worst riots in the country’s history where many underprivileged families’ lives got impacted”. The stated goal is to “disburse INR 15 lakh per affected family”. The page doesn’t mention that the beneficiaries are to only be Hindus.
It states that “the funds will be transferred to the impacted family accounts directly”, and that “regular updates will be provided and will be managed with full transparency”.
The page was updated on 16 March to expand the list of beneficiaries to 62 victims “whose homes or businesses were damaged”.
“We are making a change to our campaign’s target demographic and including the victims whose homes or businesses were damaged. We will be transferring the initial 50 lakhs to the deceased victim’s families as planned earlier,” the page states.
“The amount collected beyond the 50 lakhs will be distributed among the victims whose homes or businesses were damaged,” it adds.
The ‘About Us’ section of the page says that the campaign “is managed by team Dharma Kosh, a group of Dharmic volunteers working with the #TeamKapilMishra. Kapil Mishra ji is former MLA from Delhi Vidhan Sabha”.
Responding to queries from ThePrint, Milaap.org co-founder and CEO Mayukh Choudhury said in a statement: “Many people are fundraising on Milaap to help each other. As of today, people have set up 9 different fundraising campaigns for victims of Delhi riots. Here are the campaigns: https://milaap.org/communities/standwithdelhi.”
He added: “We are doing our best to stand with the people of Delhi in this hour of need.”
Who is Kapil Mishra?
Mishra is a former Aam Aadmi Party MLA and Delhi water resources minister. He fell out with CM Arvind Kejriwal over corruption allegations and counter-allegations, and was disqualified as an MLA, after which he joined the BJP.
Once the Shaheen Bagh protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act began, Mishra took out counter-protest marches, in which slogans of ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko’ were raised.
In the run-up to the Delhi elections, in which he lost from the Model Town constituency, Mishra made the headlines for terming the polls an India vs Pakistan contest in reference to the Shaheen Bagh protests. He also said the AAP should be renamed “Muslim League”.
Mishra’s decision to hold a pro-CAA rally in Northeast Delhi’s Jaffrabad is said to have triggered the communal riots that killed 53 and injured hundreds. During the rally, he gave a “three-day” ultimatum to the Delhi Police to get the roads cleared of anti-CAA protesters.
Hindu-only campaign is discriminatory
Gilles Verniers, assistant professor of political science at Ashoka University and co-director of the Trivedi Centre for Political Data, told ThePrint that the campaign was “discriminatory, fallacious and dangerous”.
“Communal riots are usually followed by attempts to shift the blame towards the targeted community and exonerate those who invited for violence in the first place,” Verniers said.
“Gathering relief funds exclusively in favour of one group amounts to labelling the other group as responsible for the violence, as well as denying them the status of victim. This is both.”
Lawyer Dushyant, who has been raising funds for the families impacted by the riots, took to Twitter to take a dig at Mishra’s campaign while it was trending.
“Kapil mishra who follows me has now restarted efforts to raise money for ‘hindus’ and is now trending 1 cr for delhi Hindus. If you want to donate to all affected and you don’t care what their religion is, do dm me #10croreforIndians,” he tweeted.
Kapil mishra who follows me has now restarted efforts to raise money for “hindus” and is now trending 1 cr for delhi Hindus.
If you want to donate to all affected and you don’t care what their religion is, do dm me #10croreforIndians
— Dushyant (@atti_cus) March 17, 2020
Apoorvanand, professor of Hindi at the University of Delhi, called Mishra’s campaign “highly inhumane and divisive”.
“We must say that the Islamic and Muslim organisations have been providing relief to the non-Muslims right from the beginning; the Hindu-only approach is a sectarian approach,” he told ThePrint.
Support for the campaign
Mishra’s campaign has drawn support from Right-wing handles, BJP members as well as the likes of Manipal Global Education founder T.V. Mohandas Pai.
This fundraiser to help the underprivileged Hindu families have been impacted massively by the Delhi riots.
— Mohandas Pai (@TVMohandasPai) February 27, 2020
Delhi BJP leader Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga has been tagged in many of the tweets by users who have donated to the campaign, and has also been promoting it actively, pretty much since it began.
As more cases of the victims of the riots surface, we are saddened to inform that there is a wide scale destruction of the Hindu lives and livelihood. Our resolve to help each Hindu family stands and hence we are increasing the target to Rs 71 lacshttps://t.co/ToBYzl6qns
— Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga (@TajinderBagga) February 29, 2020
Asked why the campaign was Hindu-only, Bagga told ThePrint: “It is Mishra ji’s initiative and I have simply been helping him on social media. We believe Hindus are victims and other people started the riots, so relief is being generated for the victims as they are being ignored by the ruling AAP and MLA Amanatullah Khan.”
Delhi BJP chief and North-East Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari, meanwhile, said the campaign was an individual’s choice, and that the BJP was all for helping everyone.
“Modi ji’s belief is in helping all. We do not divide on the basis of religion or caste. He believes in ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ but if someone individually wants to raise funds for a community, that is his prerogative.”
Tiwari too took a shot at AAP’s Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan, saying he was helping the Muslim community “and claimed that he wants to save his Muslim friend Tahir Hussain, so not like we can stop him… Why only talk of Kapil Mishra?”