New Delhi: With the Delhi High Court hearing a petition seeking registration of FIRs against several BJP leaders over alleged inflammatory speeches, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari has said the party is being singled out, and that there should be an independent commission to decide what constitutes hate speech.
Speaking to ThePrint, Tiwari said hate speeches made by anyone should be investigated, but only after such a panel has been constituted.
“Who will decide my speech is hate speech, and what the other has said isn’t? This will lead to anarchy. One agency should be constituted which will look into all speeches…(such as the one) by Sonia Gandhi when she asked people to come out of their houses otherwise everything will be ruined,” Tiwari said. “I am requesting that such an agency be created. Our party does not support any hate speech.”
He said all speeches related to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and made within Delhi should be investigated to begin with.
Tiwari complained that only BJP leaders’ speeches are being highlighted, and said the parameters should be the same for everyone. “The matter is in court, so I don’t want to say anything. But why only hate speeches of BJP leaders are being raised? What about Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Waris Pathan? That’s why I feel an independent body is required which will study each case and then recommend action.”
He pointed out: “There were comments by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, which I think fall under hate speech, but nothing has been said to her.”
Asking for a “clear definition for what is meant by hate speech”, Tiwari said, “The independent agency should look into all such cases and decide what is hate speech and what is not.”
The Delhi High Court Thursday granted four weeks’ time to the Central government to file their response to the petition seeking registration of FIRs against Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma and others for their alleged provocative statements.
Tiwari had earlier said politicians who give hate speeches should be barred from contesting elections.
However, when asked to comment on Kapil Mishra’s “hate speeches” that allegedly triggered riots in the capital, Tiwari, who is also the Northeast Delhi MP, told ThePrint he would not say anything on this now because the matter is sub judice.
‘Hate speeches’ by BJP leaders
During elections, it is the Election Commission that looks into all complaints of hate speeches and takes action.
After BJP’s Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and party MP Parvesh Verma were accused of giving inflammatory speeches in the run-up to Delhi assembly elections, the EC had barred the former from campaigning for three days and the latter for four days. The matter pertaining to their “hate speeches” is now in the Delhi High Court as a petition has sought registration of FIRs against them.
The petition also mentions other leaders, including AAP MLA-turned BJP leader Kapil Mishra who is accused of instigating violence in Delhi that saw one of its worst communal riots this week.
On Sunday, Mishra gave a “three-day ultimatum” to the Delhi Police to clear the streets of Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh where protests were going on against the CAA. “We would not even listen to you (the police) if the roads are not vacated,” he had said while addressing a pro-CAA protest in Maujpur with a police officer standing next to him.
Shortly after that, Mishra posted on Twitter a video of himself delivering the speech. Twitter has since taken down the post citing violation of its policies.
Mishra’s decision to hold the pro-CAA rally in Northeast Delhi’s Jaffrabad Sunday is said to have triggered the communal riots that have killed at least 38 people so far.
“We will maintain peace until (US President) Donald Trump is in India. After that, we refuse to listen to even the police if the roads are not cleared…. we will be forced to hit the streets,” he had said.
Recently, BJP MP Gautam Gambhir called for action against anyone making hate speeches, irrespective of party affiliation. “No matter who the person is, whether he is Kapil Mishra or anyone else, representing any party, if he has given any provocative speech, then strict action should be taken against that person,” Gambhir said.