'Open Call for Genocide': Lawyers' Groups Write to SC Against Communal Slogans at Jantar Mantar

The All India Lawyers' Association for Justice and Delhi High Court Women Lawyers' Forum have both written to the Supreme Court.

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New Delhi: The All India Lawyers’ Association for Justice (AILAJ) has written to the Supreme Court of India, asking for a suo moto public interest litigation to be filed in light of the inflammatory, anti-Muslim slogans raised at Jantar Mantar on Sunday.

The slogans raised, the AILAJ says, amount to an “open call for genocide”. “The crimes are an attack on secularism and other constitutional values,” the letter addressed to Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana continues. The openly violent slogans, they argue, can be seen in video clips of the event that have been doing the rounds on social media.

On Monday night, the Delhi police detained Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ashwini Upadhyay and four others in connection with the communal slogans. The slogans were raised at an event organised by the ‘Bharat Jodo Movement’ against “colonial-era laws” that demanded a uniform civil code.

This event, the AILAJ letter says, cannot be viewed in isolation. It is “just one of numerous events unfolding across the country that aim to demonise and dehumanize the Muslim community while undermine (sic) their status as equal citizens”.

The association has demanded appropriate police action, as well as an enquiry into why the police did not act to stop the sloganeering.

The Delhi High Court Women Lawyers’ Forum has also written a separate letter to the Supreme Court, seeking action against those involved in the sloganeering.

“These slogans whipping up hatred against the Muslims is not protected speech under the Indian Constitution, and is prima facie hate speech. The speeches made at the rally must not be confused with the right to freedom of dissenting or critical speech. The speeches at the rally were directly and explicitly invoking violence against a religious community, and the audience was charged and espousing violence. In Rwanda, the systematic hate speech against the ethnic minority, Tutsis, enabled the 1994 Genocide”, the letter says, according to Bar and Bench.

The rally also violated COVID-19 guidelines, the letter noted. “The videos of the above incident, are shocking, and cannot be dismissed lightly. The rally was organised in violation of the prevalent Covid guidelines of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority.”