5 Cases, No Action: Despite Hate Speech, Cops Give Wide Berth To VIPs

An NDTV investigation found that in 2017, there were at least seven cases, where the police acted with alacrity to arrest ordinary people for social media posts that are seen as offensive to political or authority figures.

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Former chief media coordinator for BJP, Suraj Pal Amu has made more violent threats since his resignation

New Delhi:  In November, just four days before Suraj Pal Amu, the BJP's chief media coordinator at that time, offered a bounty for beheading actor Deepika Padukone, the Haryana police had driven 360 km to arrest a 19-year-old, Shaqib, for posting an offensive image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

An NDTV investigation found that in 2017, there were at least seven cases, where the police acted with alacrity to arrest ordinary people for social media posts that are seen as offensive to political or authority figures.  When it comes to VIP's however -- politicians, ministers, parliamentarians and legislators -- NDTV found the response is the opposite.

Two days after SP Amu made the incendiary statement, Pawan Kumar, a resident of Gurugram, filed a complaint at the nearby Sector 29 police station, alleging criminal intimidation by the leader. A First Information Report was filed, but 20 days on, there has been no follow-up action by the police.

Mamta Singh, spokesperson of Haryana police, told NDTV that in the "Fattehabad case (regarding Shaqib) investigation was done, evidence was on record, arrest has been made... As far as the other (SP Amu's) case is concerned, it is under investigation," she said.

A video of SP Amu's statement had gone viral on media -- social and mainstream. Subsequently, the leader had repeatedly defended his comment in front of television cameras.  

The police inaction has allowed SP Amu, who has since resigned from the BJP, to make more violent threats. "Now my dream is to slap Farooq Abdullah on Lal Chowk in Srinagar. I challenge him to meet me there," he allegedly said at a recent public rally in Panchkula, a suburb of Chandigarh.  

In May, a provocative statement of T Raja Singh, a BJP legislator from Hyderabad's Goshamahal surfaced on Facebook: "Terrorists hide in Old City of Hyderabad. It is mini Pakistan".  

A First Information Report was registered against him at Hyderabad's Mir Chowk police station.

The police said they had questioned Raja Singh once, but planned to send the report to a Special Investigation Team for further investigation, fitting a wider pattern of inaction and buck-passing when it comes to elected representatives.  

Over the last two years, five FIRs have been registered against him for hate speech; two have been closed, and the fate of three remains uncertain.

In April, he allegedly made highly provocative statements saying if anyone wishes to stay in India, they have to sing Vande Mataram. He even allegedly threatened to behead anyone who said they will stop the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.

The police had registered cases against him, accusing him under Section 295A for "Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class."

Both cases, however, were closed within four months, the police said, after taking opinion from the public prosecutor. Raja Singh was not called for questioning even once in either case.

Repeated attempts to contact the public prosecutor were unsuccessful.

Former Additional Solicitor General and criminal law expert Sidharth Luthra told NDTV that the statements "fall within the forecall of law. Especially the second statement regarding beheading people is really offensive."
      
In 2016, in another Facebook video of Raja Singh's alleged hate speech against Dalits beaten up in Una, led to an FIR at the Golconda police station. There officials told NDTV that they were waiting for a report from the Forensic Science Laboratory on the case since February 2016.

Raja Singh told NDTV that he has not spent a day in jail. "Whatever FIRs have been filed against me in different police stations for hate speeches, I have never been arrested in case of those FIRs. For me my religion is bigger, politics is not that important."

Other VIPs who faced no action include former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi, who in response to a provocative statement by a local BJP leader last month, said, "I dare them to cut (our hands)," adding there was no dearth of people in Bihar to "chop off" the hands of the Prime Minister.

No case has been filed against her.

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A week later, her son and Bihar's former minister Tej Pratap Yadav claimed a conspiracy is being hatched to kill his father, Lalu Yadav. "We will not stay silent. We will skin Narendra Modi-ji," he reportedly said. A police case was filed against him following a complaint by a  BJP lawmaker in Delhi, which was later transferred to Patna. Status: no action.

At the beginning of this year, an FIR was filed against BJP lawmaker Sakshi Maharaj in Meerut for his comment blaming population rise on Muslims. "The population rise is not because of Hindus. Population has risen due to those who support the concept of four wives and 40 children," he had said. He faces charges under four sections of the law -- there has been no action on any of them, NDTV found.

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