Speaking at a press conference recently, State Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur denied that he raised "Goli Maro" slogans in the run up to the Delhi Elections. However, video footage of a rally held on January 27, 2020, show that Thakur had indeed engaged the crowd in chanting the incendiary slogan
Thakur was responding to questions by the media on his role in inciting hatred before the polls in the national capital, which was closely followed by widespread riots across different parts of the city.
"You Are Lying!"Thakur was speaking at a press conference, organised by the Income Tax Department on March 1, 2020, following a meeting between the junior Union Minister and stakeholders from various trades and industries. During the course of the interview, many of the reporters present raised questions regarding Thakur's involvement in hate speech, less than a month before the riots erupted in the city.
Reporters went on to specify the particular statement Thakur made during one of the rallies: "Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalo ko (Shoot the traitors of the country)", to which he replied saying, "You are lying. This is why I say that the media should improve its knowledge."
Thakur refrained to comment further on this issue, stating that the matter is sub judice.
Following Thakur's speech from January 27, the Election Commission served a show-cause notice to him, stating that, "By making the aforesaid statements which have the potential of disturbing communal harmony and aggravating the existing differences between social and religious communities, you have violated the above said provisions of Model Code of Conduct and Representation of the People Act, 1951."
Thakur responded by claiming he never said "Goli maaro saalo ko (shoot them)", and that he only said the first half of the slogan "Desh ke gaddaron ko (to the traitors of the country)". By this statement, Thakur insinuated that it was the crowd who had raised the slogan and that he could not be held accountable for it.
However, multiple footage of the event paint a different picture. In one of the videos published by Indian Express Online, Thakur can be seen very lucidly leading the crowd in chanting the inflammatory slogan. While it is indeed the crowd in front of him that says "Goli maaro saalo ko", he can be seen engaging the crowd to chant even louder.
At one point during the chanting, Thakur can be heard saying, "The sound should reach until the back. Girirajji (Union Minister Giriraj Singh) should be able to hear it," following which he starts leading the chant again. All this while, Thakur seems clearly aware of the slogans being raised by the crowd, as he is seen encouraging them throughout the sloganeering.
Eventually, the ECI found Thakur's speech to be in violation of the MCC and Representation of the People Act, 1951, and ordered his removal from the list of star-campaigners for the BJP ahead of the Delhi Elections. In a notification, the ECI found that Thakur, along with BJP leader Parvesh Verma had "made undesirable and objectionable statement which has the tone and tenor to aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred between different religious communities, and this violated the provisions of Model Code of Conduct and Representation of the People Act, 1951."
Not A New Slogan
The notorious slogan is by no means recent. Using relevant keyword searches, BOOM traced the earliest instance of this slogan being raised to February 2016, when members of the ABVP led a march in Delhi while raising the slogan in question. This march was carried out to protest against the anti-national slogans that were allegedly raised in the Jawaharlal Nehru University earlier that month.
On December 20, 2019, BJP leader Kapil Mishra led a pro-Citizenship Amendment Act march where the same slogan was raised again.
The same slogans were raised on January 5, 2020, when students at JNU were attacked by a group of masked people.
A #JNU teacher who was speaking to the media is heckled and interrupted by ABVP, BJP & RSS goons outside JNU main gate with "Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maro salo ko" slogans.— Sanjay Lakhwad (@SanjayUkroond) January 6, 2020
Sickening how teachers are openly being insulted.#JNUattack #ResignAmitShah#अखिल_भारतीय_गुंडा_परिषद pic.twitter.com/fbZXOzgX7u
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