New Delhi: A ‘hate speech’ by a Central Reserve Police Force constable during a debate organised by the National Human Rights Commission won a consolation prize on September 27. It also went viral on social media and while many criticised the harsh language used by the officer, some television channels chose to support her.
The debate was on ‘terrorism and militancy in the country can be tackled effectively while observing human rights’.
Two parts of Constable Khushboo Chauhan’s speech stood out.
In one, while referring to Afzal Guru, who was convicted and hanged for conspiring in the parliament attack case, she said: “Uss ghar main ghus kay maaraingay, jis ghar se Afzal niklega; woh koch nahin palnay dengay, jis koch se Afzal niklega”. (Will enter and hit the home from which Afzal would come; will not let the foetus survive in the womb, that would yield an Afzal).
She went on to speak about the 2016 protest in Jawaharlal Nehru University on the first death anniversary of Afzal Guru saying, “No human rights activist ever stood with us, but when in JNU, an anti-national said slogans like ‘Bharat tere tukde tukde honge (India will be divided into many pieces)’ or ‘Afzal, hum sharminda hain, tere qatil zinda hai (Afzal, we are ashamed that your killers are still alive)’, everybody lined up in support for him.”
Chauhan then exhorted Indian soldiers, saying, “Get up, brave soldiers of the country… Give a roar, and pierce a tricolour into the chest of that Kanhaiya (the then JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar who had been accused of sedition following the protest).”
Chauhan also spoke about how those talking of human rights do not see the pain of the old mother, widowed wife and orphans of martyrs.
Her speech, which was shared widely on social media, drew flak from a number of prominent citizens who accused her of threatening to cause physical harm to a citizen.
Actor Swara Bhaskar took to Twitter to say:
Where & when is this video from? What force is this lady in? What part of the police? Does she have any idea that she is meant to uphold the law as per Indian IPC & Constitution and not some random notion of vigilante justice. Also did she just threaten murder? @IPS_Association https://t.co/gdE92ftkLL
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) October 4, 2019
Some other Twitter users remarked that it was a reflection of “shining India under fascism” or “yatha raja, tatha praja” (As the king, so the commoners).
However, some news channels supported Chauhan’s stance and the view that she used some of the terms metamorphically. India Today TV defended the speech via a headline “Cop’s fiery speech” and a sub-head which read, “Cop puts India first” and “Khusboo: Beware India Haters”.
This stand of the channel caused further concern.
A ‘free-thinker’ and co-founder of AltNews Pratik Sinha aired his disgust through a tweet by asking if a hate speech had become the idea of ‘India First’.
A rabid hate speech is @IndiaToday‘s idea of India first? Since when is an officer calling for killing of fetuses in the womb, and pushing a pole in to @kanhaiyakumar‘s chest the idea of ‘India First’ @aroonpurie? What sort of India is this? One that calls for murder on TV? https://t.co/3e13WAgTjc
— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) October 5, 2019
The content of Chauhan’s speech was such that it even made CRPF issue a an apology of sorts. Its spokesperson Moses Dhinakaran issued a statement saying: “She is speaking against the motion in a debate competition organised by NHRC. We in CRPF respect human rights unconditionally. She was asked to speak against the motion and has delivered a speech with brilliance but some portion should have been avoided. She has been suitably advised. We appreciate the respect and concern for CRPF.”
The spokesperson also stated that the speech was given during a debate and was not meant to offend. “It is not understood how the video got leaked. The CRPF officially didn’t release it. The speech was delivered in a debate competition and nothing to get offended please (sic).”