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New Delhi: As news on a Haridwar event attended by Hindutva leaders and which saw open calls for a Muslims genocide spread on social media, several prominent citizens – including two former service staff chiefs – pointed out the lack of action against those who made such calls. Many others pointed to the silence on mainstream media when it came to this incident.
In its report on the conclave called ‘Dharma Sansad’ or ‘Religious Parliament’, The Wire had noted the presence of “a large collection of major religious leaders, right-wing activists, hardline fundamentalist militants and Hindutva organisations” between December 17 and 19.
Retired Admiral Arun Prakash, a former Chief of Naval Staff, is among those who have tweeted on the lack of response to what he has described as a clear threat to India’s national security.
“With our jawans facing enemies on two fronts, do we want a communal blood-bath, domestic turmoil and international disgrace?” he asked on Twitter.
WHY IS THIS NOT BEING STOPPED? With our Jawans facing enemies on 2 fronts, do we want a communal blood-bath, domestic turmoil and international disgrace? Is it difficult to understand that anything which damages national cohesion & unity endangers India’s national security? https://t.co/ZwBpEbHVyB
— Arun Prakash (@arunp2810) December 23, 2021
Admiral Prakash’s tweet received several responses, among which was one from retired General Ved Prakash Malik, who was formerly Chief of Army Staff and Army chief during the Kargil war.
General Malik wrote that such speeches harm national security and urged for action as well.
Agreed. Such speeches disturb public harmony and affect national security. Action required by Civil Admin.
— Ved Malik (@Vedmalik1) December 23, 2021
Utterly disgusting. If the govt doesnt curb this hate mongering, it is playing with the security of the country.
— sushant sareen (@sushantsareen) December 23, 2021
RTI activist and Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale tweeted that he has filed a complaint against the organisers and speakers of the event and that, if an FIR is not registered at Jwalapur police station, he will file a plea with a judicial magistrate.
I’ve filed a complaint with SHO, Jwalapur PS in Haridwar against the #HaridwarHateAssembly conducted from 17th-20th December at Ved Niketan Dham.
— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) December 23, 2021
Many commentators on social media used the hashtag “Haridwar hate assembly”. Economist and Congress party member Salman Soz noted that police, bureaucracy and the judiciary must act.
Open threats to kill Indian Muslims. Recording speeches, probably intending to share them on social media. If politicians don’t act, the police and bureaucracy and the judiciary must act before these fanatics burn India down. #HaridwarHateAssembly @IASassociation @IPS_Association https://t.co/ZloE7WMziw
— Salman Anees Soz (@SalmanSoz) December 22, 2021
In a similar call to end violence, actor Swara Bhaskar tagged the Uttarakhand DGP.
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) December 22, 2021
Many pointed out the disparity of response to the hate-mongering, with a commentator asking if singer Rihanna ought to tweet about this incident in order for it to make it to mainstream news. During the farmers’ protests earlier this year, a tweet by Rihanna had set a chain of incidents in motion.
Munawar Faruqui has been relentlessly punished for alleged jokes which he didn’t even crack, but there is no action against the ‘Dharm Sansad’ members who openly called for genocide against Muslims in Haridwar! Is India still a democracy!#HaridwarHateAssembly
— Dr. Shama Mohamed (@drshamamohd) December 23, 2021
It’ll take a Rihanna to comment on the #HaridwarHateAssembly for our media to cover it on their channels eh?
— Shreemi Verma (@shreemiverma) December 23, 2021
Time for PM Narendra Modi to take note of #HaridwarHateAssembly. It’s dangerous, scary, disturbing and the tragedy is we have to ask if it’s just part of an election eco system…
— Saba Naqvi (@_sabanaqvi) December 23, 2021
News reports and tweets on the Haridwar event – along with a similar event in Delhi where rightwing attendees swore to “fight, die and kill if required,” to make a “Hindu nation” dream come true – were commented upon by international participants as well, including tennis legend Martina Navratilova.
What is going on?!? https://t.co/PaUPY2mfsp
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) December 22, 2021
Wtf? This is scary . How come nobody covers this? https://t.co/lArHNu4dw6
— Alptekin Ozkilic (@alpozkilicmma) December 22, 2021