On Sunday, five journalists were allegedly assaulted by Hindutva mobs at a 'Hindu Mahapanchayat' event in Delhi's Burari ground, organised by far-right outfits. They were reporting on the highly incendiary speeches being made at the event, which included calls for genocide against Muslims.
The outfit had organised a similar event last year at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, where similar inflammatory speeches were made. Yati Narsinghanand, and Suresh Chavhanke, both have cases of hate speech against them, and are out on bail. But that did not stop them from making provocative statements yet again, instigating violence against Muslims, and spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories.
Seven journalists present at the event alleged that the crowd had assaulted them. As the mob started getting more and more aggressive towards the reporters, they were eventually separated by police officials, and held at a police station nearby.
Later that afternoon, photojournalist Meer Faisal tweeted that he was attacked alongside fellow photojournalist Mohammad Meherban by the mob 'for being Muslim', and that they were addressed with Islamophobic slurs. Article 14 also tweeted out stating the same - that the mob had attacked the reporters after discovering their religion (4 of the reporters present there were Muslim).
A day later, Delhi Police filed a case against Faisal and Article 14 for 'promoting enmity'. Cases have also been filed against the event organisers, for holding an event for which permission was denied by both the police and by Delhi Development Authority.
"The one who has weapons is a man"
"Just keep making babies," said Yati Narsinghanand, a militant monk, and head priest at Uttar Pradesh' Dasna Devi Temple, as he was greeted by the crowd. "Just keep making babies, and them worthy of fighting."
"If a Muslim becomes prime minister, then in 20 years, 40% Hindus will be killed. If you want to secure your future, then be a man. Who is a man? The one who has weapons is a man," he provocatively added.
He continued, "Just like a woman loves her mangalsutra, a man loves his weapon."
In January, he was arrested for hate speech made at a dharma sansad in Haridwar a month earlier, and further derogatory remarks made against women. Few days later, he walked out on bail.
In the presence of a crowd of hundreds of people on Sunday, he indulged in hate speech yet again. As the event neared its ending, the agitated crowd turned their attention towards some of the reporters who were there.
"We thought we'll get lynched"
Arbab Ali, who was covering the event on behalf of Article 14, told BOOM that he was conducting interviews with people sitting in the crowd, when some of the attendees turned their attention towards him and Meer Faisal, who was standing nearby.
"After finding out our names one of the men remarked aloud that we were both Muslim," said Ali. He alleged that the group of 10-15 people then coerced them to delete the videos they had taken that morning. "Suddenly one of the guys standing behind said, why are you speaking to them, just hit them."
As the mob started getting more violent, two female police officials had approached the group, but was turned away, Ali claimed. He also added that several police officers were present while the assault was taking place, but did not act to stop it.
"At some point two people in plain clothes came and started taking us somewhere, as the mob started following us. I thought that they'll take us to a corner and then beat us, or lynch us. We thought we'll get lynched."
Ali learnt later that they were both escorted by cops in civilian clothes to a police van nearby. Two more reporters, both Muslims as well, also came running to the police van at this point, while being chased by another group. Ali said that at least one of them seemed to have sustained injuries.
While this was happening, two Newslaundry reporters - Shivangi Saxena and Rounak Bhat, were also allegedly manhandled by yet another mob of attendees.
Saxena, who had previously covered the Jantar Mantar event last year, said she was recognised by some of the men who were present, as the crowd started to gather around them.
In a Twitter thread, she alleged that the crowd got physically aggressive with them, as they tried to take their devices and delete the videos they had taken from the event. "One held me from the back, groped me, other held my hand and the fourth man was snatching my mobile," she wrote.
Eventually, the mob dispersed while the other group of journalists were taken away in the police van, the Newslaundry reporters said.
Both Narsinghanand and Chavhanke have been booked yet again for hate speech for the Sunday event, but actions are yet to be taken against them by the authorities.