In a mahapanchayat held in Delhi on Sunday for which police said they hadn’t granted permission, Yati Narsinghanand, arrested in the Haridwar hate speech case and out on bail after weeks in custody, delivered a speech exhorting Hindus to pick up arms claiming they faced the threat of conversion and violence if a “Muslim is made prime minister.”
Late Sunday night, Delhi Police issued a statement saying an FIR has been lodged over the inflammatory speeches. “Some of the speakers including Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati… and Suresh Chauhanke, Chief Editor of Sudarshan News, uttered words promoting disharmony, feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will between two communities,” the FIR registered at the Mukharjee Nagar police station said.
The event was organised by Preet Singh, founder of the Save India Foundation and one of the organisers of an event held at Jantar Mantar last year where anti-Muslim slogans were raised. Singh was arrested by the Delhi Police in connection with the case and is currently out on bail. According to his Twitter account, Sunday’s mahapanchayat event was planned as far back as January 2 this year.
Narsinghanand, head priest of Ghaziabad’s Dasna Devi temple, too, is out on bail in connection with a speech he made at a three-day ‘Dharam Sansad’ held in Haridwar last December. His bail condition had said he would not be part of any event or gathering “which aims towards creating difference between communities”.
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Speaking at Delhi’s Burari ground, where around 500 people had gathered on Sunday to participate in a ‘Hindu mahapanchayat’, Narsinghanand said that if a Muslim is made prime minister, “50% of you (Hindus) will change your faith in the next 20 years”.
Narsinghanand also said “40% Hindus will be killed” if India were to get a Muslim PM. “This is the future of Hindus. If you want to change this, be a man (mard bano). What is it to be a man? Someone who is armed,” he said.
While Delhi Police said the organisers of the mahapanchayat did not have permission to hold the event, no one was stopped or detained ahead of the meeting.
“We are scanning all the footage, some videos have also been recorded by the Delhi Police during the event. Appropriate legal action will be taken after taking legal opinion,” a senior police official said.
At the mahapanchayat, Narsinghanand also told the crowd that Hindus will have to have more children, and teach them to fight.
“If you want Hindus and Muslims to not fight, watch The Kashmir Files. Just like the people of Kashmir had to leave their land, their daughters and their property behind, you will have to escape and drown in the Indian Ocean. It is only option you have,” he said.
Editor-in-chief of Sudarshan News, Suresh Chavhanke, who was also present at the event, said he was not for equal rights to all. “I consider Shivaji as my forefather and you consider Aurangzeb as yours… I am a Ram Chandra worshipper, you are Babar’s son. I want Shiv Mandir in Kashi, you fight battles for Gyanvapi masjid… Can there be equality?” he said.
Another accused in the Jantar Mantar case last year, Pinky Chaudhary, was also present on the stage. He, however, did not speak. His bail order, dated September 30, 2021, forbids him from committing an offence “similar to the offence of which he is accused or suspected of the commission of which he is suspect.”
Some of the journalists who had gone to cover the event alleged they were beaten up by members of the audience. Two FIRs, one of which is on charges of molestation, causing hurt and attempted snatching, have been registered based on the complaints of the journalists.
On January 15, the Haridwar police arrested Narsinghanand based on three FIRs — two for hate speech filed under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 295 A (outraging religious feelings) — and another for “objectionable remarks” made during the speech “against women of a particular community”. On February 8, a Haridwar court granted him bail in the hate speech case.
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