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New Delhi: The Delhi police has arrested Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Supreme Court lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay and five other individuals for their alleged role in raising anti-Muslim slogans at Jantar Mantar on Sunday. The slogans, some of which actively called for violence against Muslims, were raised at a rally in favour of a uniform civil code.
The other accused are Preet Singh, Deepak Singh, Deepak Kumar, Vinod Sharma and Vinit Bajpai, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Deepak Yadav said.
A BJP leader, Gajendra Chauhan, was also at the event and seen on the podium. Hundreds of people attended the event.
“In late-night operation, they all have been detained and now legal documents work is going on before making their arrest. Upadhyay reached Connaught Place police station at around 3 am and joined the investigation,” a senior police officer had told the Indian Express.
They were arrested from various parts of the Delhi-National Capital Region and will be produced before the magistrate on Tuesday itself, police said.
“Six people have been arrested after an FIR was registered at Connaught Place Police Station related to provocative sloganeering at a programme held near Bank of Baroda,” Yadav said.
“Upadhyay was the organiser of the protest. He was not given any permission to hold the protest. When an unlawful activity takes place at a gathering, the organiser of any such gathering is held responsible along with others who were part of it,” another senior police officer told PTI.
The police have registered the case under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code and added relevant sections of the Epidemic and Disaster Management Act.
Early on Tuesday, police sources had told NDTV that raids are being conducted across the city. On Monday, some sections had criticised the Delhi police for filing an FIR against ‘unknown persons’, since many of the accused were clearly visible in video footage of the event.
While the event was reportedly held without police permission, the Indian Express reported, no action was taken till Sunday evening and the gathering was allowed to continue. In photos and videos of the event, people can also be seen flouting COVID-19 protocol and not wearing face masks.
Crowds at the event also harassed a reporter from the ‘National Dastak’ YouTube channel, and tried to force him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. When he refused, he was called a “jihadi”.
Upadhyay had claimed on Monday that the slogans were raised after the formal event was over, and he had no idea who the people seen in the videos were. He also said that he was not the organiser of the Jantar Mantar event. “I don’t have any relation with Save India Foundation Trust. I was a guest like Mr. RVS Mani, Mr. Firoz Bakht Ahmed, Mr. Gajendra Chauhan. We reached at around 11:00 and left at 12:00. I never met these miscreants. I wish to meet you tomorrow morning to give my written statement,” he said in a statement to the police.
While Upadhyay had earlier tweeted several photos and videos of the event, he now appears to have deleted them from his Twitter timeline.
Shipra Srivastava, media in-charge of the ‘Bharat Jodo Aandolan’, had said the protest was held under the leadership of Upadhyay. However, she had denied any links to those who raised anti-Muslim slogans, PTI reported.
National Commission for Minorities issued notice to Delhi police
The National Commission for Minorities on Monday had issued a notice to Delhi’s deputy commissioner of police over anti-Muslim slogans allegedly raised during a protest at the Jantar Mantar here and asked the official to apprise it of the action taken in the matter.
As directed by NCM vice-chairman Atif Rasheed, the panel has taken suo motu cognisance of the news. “The same has hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community. You are directed to be present in the commission on 10.8.2021 at 12 noon,” it said.
The commission has asked the deputy commissioner of police to furnish information as to what action has been taken against the people who raised such slogans, whether any arrests have been made and, if so, the sections under which the accused have been booked.
The commission also asked the deputy police commissioner to apprise it on whose permission was such an event organised and what are the measures taken to prevent such incidents in future.
Also, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind chief Maulana Mahmood Madani has written to home minister Amit Shah and Delhi police commissioner Rakesh Asthana and demanded stern action against the guilty.
Apart from this, a delegation led by Maulana Hakeemuddin Qasmi, the General Secretary of the Jamiat, called on Jaspal Singh, the Joint Police Commissioner, New Delhi Range and Deepak Yadav, the DCP, at a makeshift camp at Jantar Mantar and handed over to them the copy of the letter.
It states that the hate-filled video was being circulated and shared by a large number of people on social media platforms. It has hurt the Muslims and peace-loving people across all communities, the letter said.
(With PTI inputs)
Note: This article, first published at 9 am on August 10, was republished at 11 pm with an update on arrests.