On April 3, Yati Narsinghanand—head priest of the Dasna Devi temple—said at least 50 percent of Hindus would be converted to Islam and 40 percent were in danger of being killed in 20 years if a "Muslim becomes prime minister". Narsinghanand, a serial hate monger, exhorted Hindus to take up arms "if you want to secure your future".
Nasinghanand, a militant monk, is out on bail since February for allegedly raising anti-Muslim slogans at Haridwar's Dharam Sansad held last year in December.
On Sunday, Narsinghanand was not alone. He was joined by Sudarshan News Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavanke who said Muslims should not be given the same rights as Indian Hindus. Save India Foundation founders Preet Singh and Pinky Chaudhari aka Bhupender Tomar were also there as organizers of the event which took place in the outer suburbs of North-West Delhi amid heavy police presence.
Delhi Police claim that despite the denial of permission, the organisers went ahead with the event which saw a presence of almost 700-800 people.
During the event, five journalists were allegedly assaulted, heckled and groped by the mob. They were reporting on the highly incendiary speeches being made at the event. One of the journalists, Meer Faisal, had tweeted that he was attacked alongside fellow photojournalist Mohammad Meherban by the mob 'for being Muslim'. News portal Article 14 also tweeted out stating the same. A day later on Monday, Delhi Police filed a case against Faisal and Article 14 for 'promoting enmity'.
However, this is not the first time such an event has taken place. In fact, Narsinghanand, Chavanke, Singh, and Chaudhary are serial hate mongers and have cases registered against them for hate speech. Narsinghanand, Singh, and Chaudhary are three are currently out on bail.
Delhi Police has been quick to book the hate mongers for the Sunday event and three FIRs have been. Narsinghanand, Chavanke, Singh and Chaudhari among others have been booked for inciting hatred, and for organizing the event without police permission. However, no arrests have been made yet.
However, no arrests have been made yet.
How Sunday's Mahapanchayat violate bail conditions
In December 2021, Yati Narsinghanand along with several others organised the Haridwar Dharam Sansad where explicit calls for Muslim genocide and a Hindu Rashtra were allegedly made. Days later, the Hindu Yuva Vahini organised a similar event that saw the participation of Sudarshan TV Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavanke where he allegedly gave a call to "fight, die and kill if required" to protect the Hindus from alleged Muslim domination.
Chavanke was not arrested, but a local court had directed the Delhi Police to file an Action Taken Report (ATR). The issue is still pending in court.
On August 8 2021, at New Delhi's Jantar Mantar inflammatory anti-Muslim slogans were raised at a protest meeting organised by Preet Singh and Pinky Chaudhari's Save India Foundation against 'Colonial-era laws'.
Local state police filed FIRs in all these instances. Singh and Chaudhary were arrested and later released on bail.
Earlier this year in January, Uttarakhand Police arrested Narsinghanand. A month later in February, the local Haridwar court granted bail provided Narsinghanand gave an undertaking that he would not commit a similar offence.
In fact, Narsinghanand's bail formalities were completed only after the undertaking was filed—a week after the court issued the order.
By participating in Sunday's Mahapanchayat Singh, Chaudhary and Narsinganand all violate their bail conditions.
Section 437 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers a court to impose conditions it sees fit in order to ensure that such person shall not commit an offence similar to the offence of which he is accused or of the commission of which he is suspected of.
So what happens now?
Ideally, once it's clear that an accused has violated bail conditions, the state must file an application with the court seeking cancellation of bail. This is different from opposing a bail plea.
A plea for cancellation of bail is filed by the victim—an individual or the state—after a court has already granted the perpetrator bail. Opposing bail is different because it is an objection to a bail plea filed by an accused.
Law professor Kumar Askand Pandey says that in cases like sexual assault or cheating where there is an identifiable victim, it is easier since they can simply file an application seeking cancellation of bail. However, in cases like hate speech, where the victim is a community at large, or "peace" and "tranquility", then the state must step in and serve to protect the interest of the victims.
But critics believe this may be difficult if a state is complicit or sympathetic to the cause.
"If this happened in Rajasthan where the political dispensation is different from that of the main ruling party, there's a likelihood that they would move courts seeking to cancel bail," Pandey said. "But if the political inclination toward the hardliners is soft, then it gets a bit difficult," he added.
"Anybody who tries to incite violence violates Indian laws. If conditions of bail are to be violated, it is a sign of basic disregard to the rule of law and the authority of the courts," advocate Sarim Naved said.
State inaction normalises hate speech for the common man
Advocate Mehmood Pracha said when the state and the police treat such instances with kid gloves, they become implicit. "On one hand, certain police officers invoke UAPA, armed rebellion and mutiny against people, journalists and lawyers who were admittedly espousing the cause of saving the constitution, communal harmony, love and peace but when it comes to open revolt of the constitution and other constitutional authorities, the same set of police officers slap them with softest of charges followed by all endeavors to help them get bail and ensure their acquittal by doctored investigation against them," he said.
"Therefore the main grievance of any citizen should be against government and police officials who are flouting constitutional and legal laws by helping them," Pracha added.
"Individuals like Narsinghanand, Chavanke and other right-wing fringe elements have become emboldened over time due to the reluctant police," Dhirendra K Jha said. "The so-called fringe organizations work knowing that there will be little action against them. The state is with them and the state will remain quiet," the journalist/researcher added.
Political scientist Ajay Gudavarthy said protection granted to the likes of Narsinghanand and Chavanke, is about cultivating the creation of a certain image of the Hindu State. The state's inaction simply normalizes the illegality of hate speech," the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) professor added.
"If a large section of the society starts talking like that then how can the state take action?" Gudavarthy pointed out.
There is a logic to how this hate works, Gudavarthy said. "One way is by showing that the legal system is biased and this is how a Hindu State looks like. Another way is to normalize hate speech and violence for the common man," Gudavarthy said. "Many people in Uttar Pradesh are now referring to the Haridwar Dharam Sansad as being the only solution," Gudavarthy said explaining the phenomenon of rising hate speech.