Hate Speech-Givers In Haridwar Tell NDTV "Neither Regrets Nor Fear"

Trinamool Congress leader and RTI activist Saket Gokhale has filed a complaint against the organisers and speakers at the three-day Dharma Sansad

The three-day Dharma Sansad that closed on Monday.

Highlights

  • The viral videos are from a "Dharma Sansad" in Uttarakhand's Haridwar
  • In the videos, speakers preach violence against Muslims
  • They also pledged to fight for a Hindu nation
New Delhi:

Open calls for genocide and use of weapons against Muslims, made at a "Dharma Sansad" or religious assembly in Haridwar in Uttarakhand, have triggered outrage and condemnation but the speech-givers say they stand by their hate comments.

As clips from the event held between Friday and Monday circulated on social media, former military chiefs, activists and even an international tennis legend demanded action. But four days on, there is not even an FIR over the egregious hate speeches.

The conclave was organised by Yati Narasimhanand, a religious leader who has been accused in the past of inciting violence with his incendiary speeches. According to a police complaint filed by Trinamool Congress leader and RTI activist Saket Gokhale today, others associated with the gathering are Hindu Raksha Sena's Prabodhanand Giri, BJP women's wing leader Udita Tyagi and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, who is out on bail in hate speech case.

Prabodhanand Giri tells the gathering in one video: "Like Myanmar, our police, our politicians, our Army and every Hindu must pick up weapons and conduct a Safayi Abhiyan (ethnic cleansing). There is no other option left."

Speaking to NDTV, Prabodhanand was nonchalant today. "I am not ashamed of what I have said. I am not afraid of police. I stand by my statement," he said.

"There is a difference between your thinking and mine. Read the Constitution. My comments were not inflammatory at all. If anyone tries to kill me, I will fight back. I am not afraid of the law," he declared.

The seer flaunted his links with the BJP. He has often been photographed with BJP leaders, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. In a recent photo, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami is seen touching his feet.

Another video from the controversial meet shows Pooja Shakun Pandey, aka "Sadhvi Annapurna", giving a call to arms and urging violence against Muslims.

"If you want to finish them off, then ki|l them... We need 100 soldiers who can kill 20 lakh of them to win this," she says.

Speaking to NDTV, she doubled down on her comments and said: "The Constitution of India is wrong. Indians should pray to Nathuram Godse (Mahatma Gandhi's assassin). I am not afraid of the police."

From the same stage, BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay distributed copies of what he called the "Bhagwa (saffron) Constitution". Defending himself in a video, he said he had only attended the fag end of the event and had nothing to do with what was said before him.

"What happened before I went, I don't know. I went on the last day for 30 minutes. Since I reached late, my slot was reduced to 10 minutes from 30. I had taken a copy of the constitution. I distributed copies to some and discussed provisions related to population control, checking conversions, infiltrations...If distributing or discussing the constitution is a crime, then I have committed a crime," said Mr Upadhyay.

In one of the videos, the speaker, Swami Dharam Das Maharaj, talks about "becoming Nathuram Godse" and shooting Manmohan Singh (former Prime Minister) in parliament.

"If I was present in parliament when PM Manmohan Singh said minorities have first right over national resources, I would've followed Nathuram Godse, I'd have shot him six times in the chest with a revolver," Dharam Das says.

The police claimed there is no FIR as there is no complaint. "The police are monitoring the situation," said Haridwar Superintendent of Police Swatantra Kumar Singh, when it was pointed out that the divisive speeches were already out in the open.

A video showing the saffron-robed gathering taking a pledge to fight for a "Hindu-only nation" provoked a reaction from tennis legend Martina Navratilova.

"We take an oath to fight and kill [Muslims] to turn India into a Hindu-only nation," said the Hindu Yuva Vahini, reading out the oath.

"What is going on?!?" - Martina Navratilova tweeted on the video.

NDTV cannot independently verify the authenticity of the clips.

"WHY IS THIS NOT BEING STOPPED? With our Jawans facing enemies on two fronts, do we want a communal blood-bath, domestic turmoil and international disgrace? Is it difficult to understand that anything which damages national cohesion and unity endangers India's national security," former Navy Chief Arun Prakash tweeted.

Former Army Chief General VP Mallik replied to the tweet: "Agreed. Such speeches disturb public harmony and affect national security. Action required by Civil Administration."

Many of the speakers at the conclave are repeat offenders.

Pooja Shakun, for example, made headlines in 2019 when she fired a shot at an effigy of Mahatma Gandhi, raised slogans praising Nathuram Godse and set fire to the effigy.

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