A Delhi court on January 29 directed the Delhi Police to file a report on a plea filed by activist Harsh Mander who sought the arrest and registration of an FIR against BJP leader Kapil Mishra for allegedly encouraging violence against anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019) protestors. "Let action report be called for from the concerned DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police) for 9/3/2021 on the complaint given," the order—which was made public on February 6—said.
"In this report, the police will have to clarify their stand on whether they will themselves register an FIR under these two sections against Kapil Mishra or not. If not, we will press the Court to order an FIR," advocate Sarim Naved told BOOM.
Mishra on February 23, 2020, had given a speech which allegedly triggered the February 2020 riots that broke out in North East Delhi resulting in at least 53 deaths. In a 41-second video that was viral on social media, Mishra—flanked by senior police officials—had declared that there would be peace till such time Donald Trump—then President of United States of America who was visiting—is in the capital, after that, if the roads are not clear, they will not even listen to the police.
"Hum aapki bhi nahi sunenge agar raaste khaali nahi hue toh," Mishra said in the video. "Trump ke jaane tak aap Jaafrabad aur Chandbagh khaali karwa lijiye, aise aapse vinti kar rahe hai. Uske baad hamein road pe aana padega," followed by chants of 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and 'Vande Mataram'.
Mishra had also tweeted the 41-second video of his speech. The tweet that tagged Delhi Police Twitter handle has been deleted. The archived version of the tweet can be seen here.
"Former MP and CPM (I) leader Brinda Karat had made a similar complaint against Mishra. But her plea was dismissed for want of prior sanction. However, we only pressed Section 153 of the IPC (provocation for riot) and Section 125 of the Representation of People Act (causing ill will between communities for the purpose of an election), neither of which require prior sanction," Naved added.
Kapil Mishra integral to incitement of violence: Mander's complaint
The role of Kapil Mishra is integral in the incitement of violence that broke out in NorthEast Delhi last year in February, Mander's plea said. "It is also essential to understand his antecedents in fostering enmity between communities to holistically understand his role in the violence that broke out on the abovementioned dates," the plea said.
The petition relied on several tweets Mishra published with the alleged aim to cause "incitement, ill-will, hatred and enmity between communities."
"That he had been making communally provocative statements and calorizing vigilante violence since the time of the election campaigns leading up to the Delhi Assembly Elections as had been illustrated…," the petition added.
In his plea, Mander added that the Delhi police has gone to lengths to avoid filing FIRs against prominent political leaders like Kapil Mishra, despite direction by the Delhi High Court. Referring to the high court's February 26, 2020, order, Mander said: "Therefore, the Hon'ble Delhi High Court itself noted that the speeches of Anurag Thakur (minister of state Finance), Parvesh Verma (BJP Leader and MP West Delhi), Kapil Mishra (he is also a former MLA) and Abhay Verma (BJP Leader and Delhi MLA) disclosed ex facie the commission of offence and fit the description of hate speech…necessitating the registration of an FIR at the very least as per law."
"The Delhi Police has, however, not even addressed its persistent refusal to register FIRs against the above political leaders in its affidavits filed before the Delhi High Court, and has, on the contrary, fabricated false allegations against the petitions to divert attention from its failure to comply with the above order…," the plea added.
Calls for Mishra's arrest
Several pleas seeking action against Mishra were filed in the Delhi High Court in the aftermath of the Delhi riots last year in February.
The clip referred to above, was also one of the four videos the high court played for the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta and other senior police officials who claimed they had not seen Mishra speak. During the hearing on February 26, 2020, the high court had expressed its "constitutional anguish" and pulled up the police for its inaction.
"On that very day, actually, some group of protestors forcefully occupied space under Jaffarabad metro station. In response to this, the main link road got blocked. There was some resentment among locals. [Kapil] Mishra came on sudden notice on Sunday. The DCP tried convincing him not to come, but Mishra still made the speech. The DCP then managed to get him out but the group supporting Mishra sat. This created a new situation. Then the police tried to get the groups to leave, leading to the situation now," Special Commissioner of Police Parvesh Ranjan had said in his defence.
On July 13, 2020, the police in a common reply to the high court on a batch of pleas filed on this issue, had submitted "no actionable evidence has surfaced yet indicating any role being played by" any political figure in the February riots. Mander on July 27, 2020, had withdrawn his petition from the Delhi High Court seeking permission to file it before a magistrate.