More than two individuals have been charged in connection with hate speeches delivered against Muslims at a ‘Dharam Sansad’ – a religious congregation – in Haridwar. Haridwar Kotwali SHO Rakinder Singh said on Monday that Swami Dharamdas and Sadhvi Annapurna’s names were added to the FIR after footage of the event was scanned. The FIR has been filed under Section 153A of the IPC for promoting enmity between different groups based on religion. The only person named in the FIR lodged last week was Waseem Rizvi, who had reportedly acquired the name of Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi after converting to Hinduism from Islam.
The event was coordinated by Yati Narasimhanand, the priest of the Dasna temple in Ghaziabad that saw a series of hate speeches targeting Muslims and calling for violence and murder. During the Haridwar event from December 17 to 19, Narasimhanand, who is facing several FIRs in Uttar Pradesh, called for a “war against Muslims”. He urged Hindus to take up arms to ensure that a Muslim doesn’t become the prime minister by 2029.
The theme of the Dharam Sansad this year was ‘Sanatan’s Future in Islamic India: Problems and Solutions’. A similar religious congregation was held in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, which caused a stir when Hindu leader Kalicharan Maharaj lauded Nathuram Godse for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. The two-day gathering came to an abrupt end on Sunday when Ram Sundar Maharaj, one of the main patrons, walked off the stage in protest of the abusive words used for Mahatma Gandhi. Like Haridwar, during the Raipur Dharam Sansad, religious leaders made provocative and communal speeches against minority communities.
Kalicharan Maharaj claimed in his speech at the gathering held at the Ravan Bhata ground in Raipur on Sunday that Islam intends to capture the nation through politics. He also said, “I salute Nathuram Godse for killing Gandhi.”
According to India Today, chairman of Chhattisgarh Gau Seva Aayog and former Congress MLA Mahant Ramsundar Das said that such language should not be used against Mahatma Gandhi, who gave everything for India’s freedom. “The purpose with which this event was held has deviated from its path… Mahatma Gandhi, who sacrificed everything for independence, is being described as a traitor. I wanted to ask the organiser why he didn’t raise an objection when such words were being used for the father of the nation,” said Das during his address.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry responded by summoning a senior diplomat at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and asking him to convey their “serious concerns”. In an official statement, the Pakistan ministry said: “Today, the Indian Charge d’ Affaires was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad and asked to convey the Government of Pakistan’s serious concerns to the Government of India over the widely reported open calls by Hindutva proponents for carrying out genocide of Indian Muslims.”
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According to the Pakistan Foreign Ministry, it is “highly reprehensible” that those who called for ethnic cleansing at this event have “neither expressed any regret nor have the Indian authorities condemned or taken any action against them” so far. Additionally, the Indian side was informed that the reported hate speeches had been viewed by a cross-section of Pakistani public and around the world with “grave concern”. Pakistan said that a “toxic narrative against minorities, particularly Muslims, has become a norm”, and that it expects India to investigate these hate speeches and put policies in place to prevent such incidents from occurring again in the future.
There has been no response from the Centre regarding the incidents. While opposition parties across the country have condemned the perpetrators, the BJP-led government has remained silent, neither establishing its support nor voicing its condemnation of the same.