By Syed Khalique Ahmed

JWALAPUR (Haridwar district)—Why did the Haridwar police not register an FIR suo motu after hate speeches in which speakers gave a call for genocide of Muslims at “Dharma Sansad” at Haridwar, five kilometres from here?

The “Dharma Sansad” was held between December 17-19.

The police, however, came into action only after the hate speeches attracted international headlines and invited widespread condemnation, including from several retired service chiefs.

Yet, it did not book the offenders on its own based on their videos of hate speeches that went viral on social media.

HOWEVER, the FIR was registered on December 23, based on a complaint by a second-year LLB student Gulbahar Khan, a resident of Jwalapur town. Muslims account for about 40 percent of the town’s population.

When asked if he had filed the FIR on his own or at the instance of some political parties, Gulbahar told India Tomorrow, “I filed the FIR on police instructions.”

“I organized a protest at the Jatwada pul (bridge) over the river Gang for three days in a row, demanding action against the makers of hate speeches at Haridwar. A large crowd of Muslims turned up every day. Some Muslim leaders from Dehradun also addressed these protests,” he told this scribe.

“After this, I was approached by a senior police official who asked me to file a complaint against the speakers at the Dharma Sansad,” said Gulbahar.

“I drafted the complaint in Hindi, with names of nine persons who made hate speeches, and also gave a call for the mass massacre of Muslims in the country,” Gulbahar said while narrating the sequence of events about filing FIR.

The 25-year-old student said, “After submitting my complaint, I was asked to sign on a paper, and I was not allowed to read the content.”

“The next morning, I was stunned to see in the newspapers that police had registered the FIR against Wasim Rizvi alias Jitendra Narayan Tyagi and other unnamed persons for making hate speeches”, Gulbahar pointed out. He said that he had named nine persons in his complaint.

Gulbahar said that he then went to the police and asked them why they had not named all the persons whose names he had mentioned in the complaint. The police, he said, then added the names of two other offenders and subsequently added the names of all others. After that, however, Gulbahar had to give their names again in writing.

But why did the police ask Gulbahar to lodge an FIR? Why did the police itself not register the case despite video evidence available on the internet? In fact, it was based on video evidence only that Gulbahar complained to the police because he was not present at the event.

If the police could entertain a complaint and book a case based on a video speech produced by a student, it could have done the same thing on its own. Will the police wait for someone to file a complaint if a Muslim commits such offences? The Delhi police lodged an FIR against the Tablighi Jamaat’s Markaz in the Banglewali Masjid at Hazrat Nizamuddin and its head Muhammad Saad regarding the corona pandemic March 2020 on its own. It did not wait for anyone to file a complaint in this regard.

Sources in the Haridwar district administration said that the state government did not want to annoy the radical Hindu religious leaders by initiating suo motu action against them because of political reasons. Uttarakhand is going for assembly elections between February 14 and March 10, 2022, along with four other states. A suo motu action, sources said, would have gone against the interest of the ruling BJP. Hence, they chose a Muslim to file an FIR in this case.

The charges levelled against the accused persons are under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code. Section 153A deals with the offence of promoting disharmony, enmity, or feelings of hatred between different groups on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony.

However, the FIR nowhere mentions that the accused persons appealed for the massacre of Muslims. This dilutes the case against the accused. Why did the police do so when the accused persons called for genocide against Muslims in India? Gulbahar says he had stated in his complaint that the accused persons had appealed for the mass massacre of Muslims.

The FIR says, “Wasim Rizvi alias Jitendra Narayan Tyagi and others, in their speeches, made provocative and offensive statements against Islam and Prophet Muhammad, under a pre-planned conspiracy. This has hurt the religious feelings of the complainant and other followers of Islam. And this was telecast live on Facebook and other social media platforms. Therefore, you are requested to initiate legal action against those who made offensive speeches against Prophet Muhammad and the religion of Islam and those who made it live on social media.”

Another FIR about the delivery of incendiary speeches at the “Dharma Sansad” was filed on January 2 by activist Nadeem Ali, a resident of Jwalapur. The charges levelled are under IPC Sections 153 A and 298. Section 298 pertains to uttering words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person). This FIR also misses the appeal for the mass massacre of Muslims by the accused persons.

Delayed Arrest

While the first FIR was registered on December 23, 2021, Wasim Rizvi was arrested on January 14, 2022, after a gap of 22 days. Rizvi had two cases reported against him in the Haridwar district. One case pertained to his offensive statements at Haridwar Press Club and another about his speech at Haridwar “Dharma Sansad”.

Similarly, Yati Narsinghanand was arrested on January 15, in connection with three cases-one about “Dharma Sansad”, another about making offensive remarks against Islam and Prophet Muhammad at the Haridwar Press Club filed by a journalist Dilshad Qureshi and a third case filed by one Ruchika for making objectionable comments against women of the Muslim community.

However, these arrests were made after the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Uttarakhand state government on a PIL alleging police inaction in Haridwar hate speech and an event organized by Hindu Yuva Vahini in Delhi. Former BBC journalist Qurban Ali filed the PIL.