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New Delhi: Delhi police has found that Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ashwini Upadhyay had connections with the men who raised anti-Muslim threats at a demonstration in Jantar Mantar on August 8.
While Upadhyay and five others had been arrested two days after the crime took place, Upadhyay who has been a BJP spokesperson has sought to distance himself from the delivery of hate speech. At his bail hearing, where he was represented by four senior advocates, Upadhyay’s counsel questioned that he had been at the site when slogans were raised against Muslims.
One Shipra Srivastava who is media in-charge of the Bharat Jodo Aandolan that Upadhyay heads had told PTI the August 8 protest was held under the leadership of Upadhyay but denied links to those who raised the slogans.
The Delhi police’s admission to Indian Express puts Upadhyay’s claim in perspective.
DCP (New Delhi district) Deepak Yadav told Express that 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.
Upadhyay had even mentioned Preet Singh in his application for organising the event, DCP Yadav told Indian Express.
Soon after his release, he released a Twitter video in which he claimed to have no connection with the organisation of the protest and the sloganeers, and said he was framed by police.
The Wire had also noted on the day he had been arrested that while Upadhyay had posted several tweets in support of the August 8 protest, he later deleted all of them.
Aside from Upadhyay and Deepak Singh, the four others arrested are Deepak Yadav, Deepak Kumar, Vinod Sharma and Vinit Bajpai.
Of them, Vinod Sharma, a member of the right-wing Hindu group Sudarshan Vahini, was a noted presence at pro-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests led by BJP leader Kapil Mishra and more recently, organised a protest in Uttam Nagar where men were captured on live video as having said that they had driven out Muslim fruit vendors.
One Pinky Chaudhary, who has also been named as an accused, was granted anticipatory bail last week, Express has reported.