The police have arrested Bharatiya Janata Party member Ashwini Upadhyay and five other individuals for raising communal slogans at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
The Delhi Police have identified Deepak Singh, Vinod Sharma, Vinit Kranti, Deepak, and Preet Singh for inciting hate slogans.
The police have charged these individuals with sections 153A for promoting enmity between different groups and 188 for disobedience to order duty promulgated by the public servant of the Indian Penal Code.
They are also charged under the Disaster Management Act (DDMA) section 51 for violating the Covid-19 protocols.
The incident took place on Sunday, and the arrests happened by the end of Monday. Police questioned the accused till Tuesday early morning at the police station at Connaught Place.
The National Commission for Minorities on August 9 filed a complaint against the accused of raising hate slogans at a rally.
Bar and Bench have tweeted the report, stating that these slogans promote hatred against Muslims and are a prima facie hate speech case.
Hence, the speech at the rally shouldn’t be confused with the constitutional right of freedom of dissenting or critical speech.
A video went viral on social media that showed communal slogans raised in a rally in Delhi. Following the backlash, the Delhi Police registered a case against the accused on August 9.
The media-in-charge of Bharat Jodo Andolan that organized the event in Jantar Mantar, Shipra Srivastava, confirmed that the rally was headed by former Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson, Ashwini Upadhyay.
On Monday, Ashwini Upadhyay wrote a letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner. In the letter, he said that the event started at 11 am and ended after 12 following Firoz Bakht Ahmed, RVS Mani, Gajendra Chauhan, Lt Gen (Retd) Vishnu Kant Chaturvedi.
Upadhyay spent an hour on the stage rally with a huge crowd. However, he left the venue after 12 noon. The Save India Foundation organized the rally; the rally aimed to protest against the colonial-era laws being used in India.
He further said that his name is being accused on Twitter by opponents who associated him with hate speech.
He said that he doesn’t acknowledge the other accused in the video.
He wrote in the letter that the video is going viral on social media platforms, and people are defaming him on WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter.
He doesn’t know those individuals seen raising hatred slogans in the video, nor did he invite those people to the rally.
Ashwini Upadhyay posted a video on Twitter stating that the video should be inspected and requested the Delhi Police to take stringent actions against the accused.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police in New Delhi, Deepak Yadav, stated that the people gathered at Jantar Mantar did not have permission to organize a rally and flaunted the Covid-19 protocols.
He noted that the police are investigating the matter based on their video of the incident. The Delhi Police had earlier registered a case against unknown people since many were seen in the video raising hate slogans against Muslims. The police are now conducting searches across the city to find the other accused.
Congress member Shashi Tharoor has urged the Delhi Police to take stern action against the accused. Ashwini Upadhyay responded to Shashi Tharoor’s tweet, stating that the Indian Penal Code was introduced in 1860, and that is why people aren’t afraid of the law anymore.
He said that the parliament minister should introduce a bill confiscating hundred percent property of religious extremists and provide them imprisonment of ten to twenty years.
Reports state that a journalist working for National Dastak was harassed at the event. Anmol Pritam noted that he was at Jantar Mantar to cover the rally when he was harassed by the crowd and coerced to chant “Jai Shri Ram.”
He shared a video on his Twitter handle in which men aggressively ask him to chant the slogan or threaten him to leave the country.
Anmol Pritam spoke to The Scroll, he said that he asked the crowd about the benefits that the Narendra Modi government had provided to them.
Afterward, the crowd got aggressive, started calling him a jihadi, and coerced him to chant Jai Shri Ram. He said he was surrounded by at least forty to fifty men.
Later, the crowd increased, and he was manhandled and allegedly hit on his back. He also accused the police of not intervening when he was harassed.