Delhi Police Grants Permission to Chant 'Shoot the Traitors', Then Backtracks

Activist says police repeatedly asked if his protest was against CAA, was given permission only when he said it was against “communal forces”.

New Delhi: Journalist and activist Saket Gokhale was granted permission by the Parliament Street police station of Delhi police to raise the slogan “desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko (shoot the traitors)” during a peaceful protest he planned at Jantar Mantar on February 2.

Gokhale said that the Delhi police asked him if his protest was in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) or against it. When he told the police that the protest did not have anything to do with the Act, he was given permission to hold the protest.

Gokhale also wrote, “At the police station, all they kept asking me constantly was – is this against the CAA? I said no – it’s against communal forces & the incident at Jamia. And like I wrote yesterday, they assumed the rally was `against communal forces at Jamia’.”

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On Twitter, he wrote that he had no intention of holding the rally and he only wanted the police to “give in writing what they think of this reprehensible slogan”. He said police have been denying permission to hold legitimate protests.

Soon after he tweeted that he had received permission, Gokhale said the police had contacted him, saying the rally may be ‘problematic’. The assistant commissioner of police called him and said that the slogan will be problematic in view of Delhi being under the Model Code of Conduct. He has been requested to move the protest to after February 8, the day of polling in Delhi.

However, he questioned that if this slogan is indeed a violation of the MCC, then why Union minister Anurag Thakur – who raised the first part of it even as a crowd repeatedly chanted the latter during an election meeting – has not been arrested.

The Election Commission barred him from campaigning in Delhi for 72 hours.

Gokhale has through his request, brought into focus the larger issue of the Delhi police adopting different yardsticks when it comes to applying laws for similar situations.

Stating that he would be taking the matter to court, he also wondered if “Maanyawar” – a reference to Union home minister Amit Shah, to whom the Delhi police report – was behind people chanting such slogans.

Gokhale’s intention behind seeking permission to chant the slogan was to put the Delhi Police in a bind.

There is anger amid concerned citizens around senior politicians raising such slogans to incite violence. It is widely believed that such sloganeering could also end up provoking impressionable minds into taking up arms and getting involved in violent acts.

One such example came to light a couple of days ago when a youth from Jewar in Uttar Pradesh reached Jamia Milia Islamia University and opened fire, leading to injuries to a student. This minor, who shouted “yeh lo aazadi before he opened fire was clearly influenced by such incendiary statements.

In another incident, a man reached the Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA protest site on Saturday and shouted “Hindu Rashtra Zindabad” before firing in the air. A television channel also showed him saying: “Iss desh mein kisi ki nahin chalegi, sirf Hinduon ki chalegi (In this country, no one but Hindus can have their say).”

With two such incidents of firing taking place within days of Thakur’s rally, questions are now being raised about how much of a role his actions played in the violence.