New Delhi: The Delhi Police have claimed there was no hate speech aimed specifically at Muslims at an event that the Hindu Yuva Vahini organised in December 2021.
Police were responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court that demands an independent investigation into allegations of hate speech against Muslims at two separate events — the Dharma Sansad held in Haridwar and the Delhi event.
The PIL says that the alleged hate speeches in both events consisted of open calls for genocide against Muslims to achieve ethnic cleansing. The two events were held between 17 and 19 December 2021.
Videos of the Delhi event that went viral show Suresh Chavhanke, the controversial editor-in-chief of Sudarshan News, purportedly exhorting people to “fight, die and, if needed, kill for making India a Hindu Rashtra”.
A complaint was filed against Chavanke days later on 25 December by S.Q.R. Illyas, president of the Welfare Party of India and father of former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid. Two more complaints followed on 27 December — one by Prashant Dubey, Avani Bansal, and Prakhar Dixit of the All India Professionals’ Congress and another by one Faisal Ahmad.
“No hate was expressed in the events at Delhi against any group, community, ethnicity, religion or faith, the speech was about empowering one’s religion to prepare itself to face the evils which could endanger its existence, which is not even remotely connected to a call for genocide of any particular religion,” Delhi Police said in an affidavit filed on 13 April.
‘Free speech, tolerance’
Police claimed in their affidavit that the speech at the event “does not disclose any such aim to incite caste, language and communal fanaticism as alleged or otherwise, nor the same has resulted in any action has been taken in furtherance of any such incitement”.
Police said they examined the video of the speech in question and found 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 amongst any religion, caste or creed”.
It went on to claim that the “persons who gathered were there with the motive to save the ethics of their community”.
The affidavit also invokes free speech under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution and preaches tolerance.
“We must practise tolerance to the views of others. Intolerance is as much dangerous to democracy as to the person himself,” the affidavit said.
The petitioner “is trying to draw an incorrect and absurd inference by isolated passages disregarding the main theme and its message”, Delhi Police added.
The petition also accuses Delhi Police of not conducting an impartial probe — accusations that the latter has dismissed as “baseless and imaginary”.
“There is hardly any scope on the part of investigation agencies to tamper with the evidence or hamper the investigation in any manner,” Delhi Police claim in the affidavit, filed by Esha Pandey, Deputy Commissioner of Police, South-east Delhi.
The affidavit then goes on to accuse the petitioners of “misusing the process of law” when they approached the Supreme Court without reaching the Delhi Police first.
In her affidavit to the court, Pandey claims that the Delhi Police conducted a “deep enquiry” into the contents of the videos and found that “the alleged speech did not disclose any hate words against a particular community as alleged”.
The investigating officer in the case submitted their findings in the case on 24 March and closed the case, the affidavit says.
Police filed no FIR since there was no cognisable offence and “no police action is required into the matter”, the affidavit says.