'Dharma Sansad' Hate Speech: Three Armed Forces Veterans Move SC Seeking SIT

The three petitioners are Major General S.G. Vombatkere, Colonel P.K. Nair and Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury.

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New Delhi: Three retired members of the Indian Armed Forces have filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking that a special investigation team be constituted to investigate the anti-Muslim hate speech at the Haridwar and Delhi ‘Dharma Sansad’ events.

The three petitioners are Major General S.G. Vombatkere, Colonel P.K. Nair and Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury.

“The seditious and divisive speeches made violate not only the criminal law of the land, but also strike at the core of Article 19 of the Constitution of India. These speeches stain the secular fabric of the nation and also have serious potential to impact public order adversely,” the petition says.

The petitioners note that such incidents, if unchecked, can “have a serious impact on the morale and integration of the soldiers in the armed forces” who, the petition stresses, come from “diverse communities and religions.”

The petitioners also noted that their experience is that such hate speeches can “even affect the battle efficiency of our Armed Forces and in turn compromise national security.”

The petition cites choice lines from the conclaves at Haridwar and Delhi to note how speakers have dog whistled against and called for killing of Muslims.

‘Speaker A’ even warned that “If you want to finish off their (Muslim) population then we are ready to kill them. Even if 100 of us are ready to become soldiers, we can kill 20 lakh of them, then we will be victorious,” the petition says.

“‘Speaker J’ said in a speech that “Either get ready to be killed yourself or be ready to kill. Just like Myanmar, our police, our
politicians, our army and every Hindu must pick up arms and organise an ethnic cleansing,” the petition further says.

The petition notes that the speakers at the Dharma Sansad events did not mince words in their open communal calls.

“Hate speeches of such a blatantly unconstitutional and vile character have perhaps not been made so openly since pre-independence India,” the petition urges.

Earlier, on January 10, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a PIL seeking action against those who made hate speeches during the recent Dharma Sansad held at Haridwar in Uttarakhand.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana took note of the submissions of senior advocate Kapil Sibal that despite the registration of a first information report (FIR), no arrests had been made in the case.

The current petition also notes that no arrests have been made in the case so far, while at least two FIRs have been filed.

In the meantime, Uttarakhand Police made its first arrest in the hate speech case, nabbing Waseem Rizvi who is now known as Jitendra Narayan Tyagi. Videos of the arrest shows Dharma Sansad leader Narsinghanand as saying, “You will all die.”

Major-General Vombatkere had last year challenged constitutionality of the offence of sedition under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, for being ‘vague’ and creating a ‘chilling effect on free speech’.