In a disturbing incident, inflammatory and Islamophobic slogans were raised during a rally held at the Jantar Mantar in the national capital on Sunday. The event, organised by former Delhi BJP spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay, was meant to be a rally against "colonial-era laws". According to reports, organisers of the event did not have permission from Delhi Police for conducting the same.
The incident raised alarm in the capital, which saw one of the worst forms of sectarian violence last year during the northeast Delhi riots in February. However, police only took action on Monday morning, a day after the incident.
Following outrage against police inaction which peaked on social media on Sunday evening, Delhi Police lodged an FIR against unknown persons in connection to the incident on Monday morning. According to a report by The Indian Express, Ashwini Upadhyay who is also a Supreme Court lawyer, sent a message to Delhi Police on Monday morning, alleging that some people had maligned his event.
The event at Jantar Mantar was part of the Bharat Jodo Andolan, coordinated by Upadhyay, against the scrapping of 222 colonial-era laws. The "movement" began on August 8 to mark the anniversary of the Quit India Movement. Posters of the event were being circulated on social media from beforehand. Representative of Indian Cinema at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations Vivek Agnihotri also shared a poster for the same last week.
A serial petitioner, Upadhyay had filed a PIL with the Supreme Court in July seeking a comprehensive and "stringent" penal code, Hindustan Times reported last month.
Upadhyay himself shared tweets and images from the event and even shared a Facebook Live video.
"English laws are very poor...they allow the spreading of religious frenzy for fame," Upadhyay wrote in Hindi on Twitter. "Separatism, fundamentalism and religious hysteria will not subside until good laws are replaced by bad English laws," he added.
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Speaking to Express, the movement's media in-charge Shipra Srivastava said that no inflammatory slogans were raised as far as the organisers were aware of. She also added that in case a few of the thousands in attendance had raised anti-Muslim slogans, the movement would immediately dissociate from them.
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However, videos on social media show large masses of people at the event shouting incendiary and provocative slogans targeting Muslims and threatening them with harm.
As the videos went viral, many raised questions about why the Delhi Police took so long to take action against the perpetrators. Others demanded intervention and condemnation of the incident from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Observers also noted the stark similarity of the controversial slogans raised in Jantar Mantar on Sunday to the ones raised in February last year ahead of the 2020 Delhi riots.
Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken about the need for a "Bharat Jodo Andolan" to mark the 75th Independence Day during his last Mann Ki Baat address.