Delhi Police have identified four men — Vinit Kranti, Pinky Bhaiya, Uttam Malik and Deepak Singh — for their alleged role in raising inflammatory, anti-Muslim slogans at Jantar Mantar on Sunday, at a protest march against “Colonial-era laws” called by former Delhi BJP spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay, senior officers said. A team of the Inter-State-Cell of Crime Branch has been tasked with conducting raids to pick up the men, it is learnt.
And while Upadhyay distanced himself from the slogans, police said his role is also under probe.
Sources said one of the identified men, Deepak Singh Hindu, is a resident of Northeast Delhi’s Karawal Nagar. “He claims to belong to the Hindu Parishad and some other outfits. On July 31, he had called people to come to a mazaar in East Delhi’s Patparganj to read the Hanuman Chalisa,” said a senior officer.
In a video from Sunday, Uttam Malik, said he was a follower of Dasna Devi temple’s (Ghaziabad) head priest Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, who was booked in April for allegedly making disparaging comments against the Prophet at an event in Delhi.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Monday, Narsinghanand said, “My followers were present at the protest in large numbers. People from other organisations should also support Ashwini. The event was much needed and those raising such slogans are justified because Hindus have a lot of pent up anger. They need to vent,” he said, adding that he did not specifically know the men who raised the slogans threatening harm to Muslims.
On Monday morning, police had registered a case against unknown persons under IPC section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups). As first reported by The Indian Express, police have maintained organisers had no permission to hold the march, and have since added Sections of 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 51 for violation of the DDMA Act pertaining to violation of Covid guidelines.
A senior Delhi Police officer said the four men were identified after scanning videos from the event. “So far, we have identified four men and have sent our team to nab them,” he said.
Sources said some of the identified men came from Uttar Pradesh and some had also posted photos and videos from Jantar Mantar on social media. “The whole event was recorded by the New Delhi district police and Special Branch officers, but they have not found any inflammatory slogans in their videos. We suspect they must have raised all these slogans when people were dispersing after the event ended at 12.15 pm,” claimed a police source.
Upadhyay had called for the march under the banner of his outfit ‘Bharat Jodo Movement’, which aims to do away with “Colonial-era laws” He had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court last month against the Indian Penal Code, seeking a judicial panel or a body of experts to draft a ‘comprehensive’ and ‘stringent’ penal code for ensuring rule of law and equality. The PIL is pending and has not come up for hearing yet.
Among those on stage with him was actor and BJP leader Gajendra Chauhan.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Monday, Upadhyay said that as per the DDMA guidelines, social, cultural and political gatherings are not allowed, but the gathering he called was for “a historical cause to address concerns on the day Quit India Movement was launched”. He also filed a complaint with the police on Monday, asking for action against those who raised such slogans if the videos are authentic.
“As soon as we saw that the number of people was swelling, which would lead to Covid protocol violations, I said what I wanted and left,” he said. He claimed he was not aware of any inflammatory sloganeering at the venue or pamphlets being distributed.
“Maybe this was done by someone to derail our movement. We were not expecting more than 100-150 people as we had mobilised people through social media,” he said.
Upadhyay had been exhorting people to be part of the protest through social media for over a month, with the time and date for the protest mentioned on each post. On August 5, he had posted a video of Gajendra Chauhan asking people to protest against ‘videshi kanoon’ and to join Sunday’s protest.
(with inputs from Abhinav Rajput)