Mumbai: In November last year, the Telangana high court laid down three strict conditions while setting aside MLA Raja Singh’s preventive detention order. Singh, who has over 100 criminal cases against him, had spent 76 days in jail under preventive detention for stoking communal tensions in Hyderabad.
In the November 9, 2022 order, Justices A. Abhishek Reddy and Juvvadi Sridevi laid down clear restrictions. Singh “shall not participate in or hold any celebratory rallies/meetings after his release”. Singh shall be prohibited from giving “any interviews to any kind of media houses including the print media” and, in the future, Singh “shall not make any provocative speeches against any religion or post any derogatory or offensive posts on any social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, etc.”
It took Singh less than three months to violate all three conditions. He was in Mumbai on January 29 to attend an event organised by a radical Hindu group ‘Sakal Hindu Samaj’. At the Hindu Janakrosh Morcha organised by the group, Singh declared that if the Maharashtra state government didn’t come up with an anti-conversion law, Hindus would soon be up in arms. The anti-conversion law, one of the most contentious issues in the country, is ostensibly to restrict ‘forced conversion’, but experts have said that it infringes on the right to practice religion.
Singh had not simply promoted the idea of a new law. He was provoking the gathering to pick up arms and attack Muslims. He used abusive, derogatory words and called for direct violence against the Muslim community. His speech not just violated the high court order but clearly promoted enmity between two religious groups, as described under Sections 153 B and 295-A of the Indian Penal Code for promoting enmity between two communities and for deliberately and maliciously acting with an intent to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
Following Singh’s speech, another Hindutva leader Sakshi Gaikwad made an equally provocative speech, making an open call for a genocidal attack and treating the Muslim community like “sacrificial lambs”, waiting to be sacrificed.
The Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha began from Shivaji Park in Dadar and culminated at Kamgar Maidan in Parel, covering a distance of more than four kilometres. Leaders and workers of right-wing outfits such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) were part of this rally.
The speeches made by Singh and other speakers have since been actively shared on social media. Despite communally charged content, the Mumbai police have failed to initiate any action against the speakers. The Wire made repeated attempts to contact the Dadar police and the Mumbai police spokesperson for their comment. However, hasn’t managed to elicit a comment yet. The story will be updated as/when they respond.
Meanwhile, the Hyderabad police have been prompt in issuing notices to Singh. In the past four days, the Mangalhat police in Hyderabad, citing the conditions applied on his release by the high court, has issued two notices. The first notice was issued soon after the speech was delivered. The notice, asking Singh to respond in two days as to why a criminal action should not be initiated against him, was sent to his residence.
“In the video, your speech is very much provocative to a particular community regarding demands of laws on love jihad, cow slaughter, conversion and a few other words,” the notice issued to Raja Singh by the Mangalhat police stated while reminding him of the content and conditions of his release orders. “Your speech with the potential to provoke a particular religion is a violation of conditions imposed by the HC,” the notice further stated.
Only a week before his visit to Mumbai, Raja Singh was served with another notice for making an equally provocative speech in Ajmer Dargah last year. The police, in that notice, too had mentioned that if Singh doesn’t stop deliberately stoking communal feelings and making provocative statements, he could be arrested. The police have, however, only issued more notices and have not initiated any concrete steps to stop him.
Singh continues to be undeterred and has challenged the Telangana police. Singh claims that the police’s decision to issue a notice was a political one and that he was “not scared of going back to jail”. Singh was suspended from the BJP in August for having posted a video with alleged derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad.
The Sakal Hindu Samaj has another similar public event scheduled in the city on February 5. Following Singh and Gaikwad’s violent speeches, a lawyer moved the Supreme Court seeking immediate action against the group. A bench of Supreme Court judges Justices K.M. Joseph and J.B. Pardiwala have asked the Maharashtra government to ensure that the event is allowed to be carried out only on the condition that provocative speeches are not made and that the event is videographed.
The apex court too is aware of the police’s failure to act and stop such violent speeches in the state. The court while issuing an order to the police also acknowledged the helplessness of the court to push the state to take action and in response to the petitioner said: “You ask us to be embarrassed again and again by getting an order. We have passed so many orders yet nobody is taking action. The Supreme Court should not be asked to pass an order on an event-to-event basis.”