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New Delhi: The Delhi Police on Wednesday (August 25) arrested a man named Uttam Malik – who also goes by Uttam Upadhaya – in the Jantar Mantar communal slogans case. Raids are also on to try and arrest another accused, Pinky Chaudhary, who has been absconding since his anticipatory bail application was rejected, Indian Express reported.
“He [Malik] runs a stationary shop in Ghaziabad. We are questioning him and trying to find out his connection with the other accused,” a police officer told the newspaper.
Some reports have said that Malik is associated with the Hindu Raksha Dal. A Facebook profile appearing to belong to him (under the name Uttam Upadhaya) claims that he joined the BJP in September 2019. In an Instagram story highlight from four weeks ago, he asked his followers to join the Bajrang Dal, as it was “keeping the pigs scared”.
Eight people have been arrested in the case so far, including Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwini Upadhyay. Upadhyay was granted bail on August 11, a day after his arrest. Upadhyay is said to have organised the event where the communal slogans were chanted, though he now denies this.
Hundreds of people had attended the protest organised by ‘Bharat Jodo Aandolan’ on August 8, demanding a uniform civil code. At this event, groups chanted inflammatory, anti-Muslims slogans, including calling for Muslims to be killed. Videos of the incident had gone viral on social media, after which a police case was filed.
The most recently arrested, Malik, is seen in one of the videos from August 8, Indian Express reported. In the video, Malik claims to be a follower of Dasna Devi temple priest Yati Narsinghanand, who has been involved in numerous communal events and regularly calls on his followers to band together against Muslims.
As reported before, the police has found links between the organisers including Upadhyay and those who shouted violent slogans. One of the accused, Deepak Singh, was invited to the event by one Preet Singh, the president of the ‘Save India’ organisation, and one who is known to Upadhyay.
Deepak Singh – founder of the extremist ‘Hindu Force’ who calls himself ‘Deepak Singh Hindu’ – had been profiled in two of The Wire’s reports tracing the origins of the Delhi riots of February 2020. He was also one of the rightwing Hindutva leaders who had given a call to violently end farmers’ peaceful protest on the Delh-Haryana border, at Singhu.
The fact that Deepak Singh says he was invited to the event by Preet Singh, a man known to Upadhyay, goes some way in establishing a firm link between the BJP leader and a representative of what the BJP has long since sought to establish as a fringe element of its politics.