Rights

‘Constitution, Love, Ahimsa’: Harsh Mander's Speech Which Centre Now Claims ‘Incited Violence’

On Wednesday in the Supreme Court, solicitor general Tushar Mehta read out excerpts from a speech the civil rights activist made, holding him responsible for the violence in Delhi. The Wire publishes the complete translation of the speech.

Civil rights activist Harsh Mander has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking the registration of FIRs against BJP leaders Kapil Mishra, Parvesh Verma, Anurag Thakur and Abhay Verma for allegedly making hate speeches. In response, solicitor general Tushar Mehta on Wednesday read selective excerpts from a speech Mander made at Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) University on December 16, 2019, during an anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protest, claiming it incited violence.

The Wire is publishing the translation of the speech that the former bureaucrat made, in which Mander appeals for peace and non-violent mode of protests. Below the full English text is the Hindi original.

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I will first raise a slogan. What is this fight for? Who is this fight for? This fight is first for our country, then for our Constitution, and then for love. This government has thrown a challenge and declared war not just against the Muslim brothers and sisters of this country, but also against the way this country was imagined. During the freedom struggle, there was an imagination of India, an imagining of what kind of a country ours would be after the British left.

Our imagination was that we would build a nation where it would not matter whether you believed in Bhagwaan or Allah or didn’t believe in anything. It would not matter what jaati one belonged to or what language one spoke. It would not matter if you were rich or poor, male or female. Everyone would be considered an equal human being and an equal citizen of this country. You would have as much right to this country as anyone else.

Today, when the Muslims of this country are being asked to prove their love for this country, the question arises that this demand is being made by people who never participated in the freedom struggle and made no sacrifices.

The Muslim brothers and sisters and children who are present here are Indian by choice. The rest of us are Indians by chance. We had no choice. We had only this country. You [Muslims] had a choice and your ancestors chose this country.

Today, those who are in the government are trying to prove that [Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali] Jinnah was right and Mahatma Gandhi was wrong. The name of their party should be changed from Bharatiya Janata Party to Bharatiya Jinnah Party. Mr Jinnah had said that India is not one country but two: Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India.

What we are saying is that this is one country: India, and that all – Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, Adivasis, Dalits, rich, poor, man, woman, all – have equal rights.

Anyone who asks you these questions and claims to take away your rights is being challenged by a movement going on across this country to save the Constitution of the country and to save love and friendship which form the soul of the Constitution.

To do this, we have come out on the streets and will continue to occupy the streets.

This fight cannot be won in the parliament because our political parties, who declare themselves secular, do not have the moral strength to take up the fight.

This fight can also not be won in the Supreme Court because, as we have seen in the case of the NRC, Ayodhya and Kashmir, the Supreme Court has not been able to protect humanity, equality and secularism. We will definitely try as hard as we can in the Supreme Court, because it is our Supreme Court after all. However, the final decision/verdict will be given neither by the parliament nor by the Supreme Court.

What will be the future of the country? You are young people – what kind of a country do you want to leave for your children? Where will this decision be made? On the one hand, the decision can be taken on the streets. We are all out on the streets. However, there is one more space, bigger than the streets, where this decision can be taken. What is this space where the solution to this struggle can be found? It’s in our hearts – in your heart and in mine.

Also Read: SC Seeks Activist Harsh Mander’s Response on Allegations of Hate Speech

If they want to reply to us with hatred and we respond likewise with hatred, hatred will grow and become denser. If there is someone spreading darkness in the country and we say that we will spread more darkness, it is natural that darkness will grow thicker. If there’s darkness, it can be countered only by lighting a lamp. If there’s a greater darkness, we will light our own individual lamps. That’s how darkness can be defeated. We have only one answer to their hatred, and that answer is love.

They will cause violence, they will incite us to violence, but we will never commit violence. Please understand that it is their ploy to incite you to violence. If we respond with violence, we will create 2% violence and they will respond with 100% violence.

We have learnt from Gandhi what violence and injustice can do.

Most importantly, we have to fight with non-violence. Anyone who incites you to violence and hatred is not a friend of yours.

I will raise a slogan now: The Constitution

[crowd responds] Long live

Transcript of original Hindi speech by Harsh Mander:

Main sab se pahle ek naara uthaunga – ye ladai kiski, kiske liye ladai hai aur kiski ladai hai.

Ye ladai sab se pahle hamare desh ke liye hai, phir hamare samvidhan ke liye hai, aur uske baad ye ladai mohabbat ke liye hai.

Is sarkar ne lalkaar aur jang chcheda hai na sirf is desh ke Musalman bhaiyon aur behnon ke khilaaf. Unhone jang chcheda hai, is poore desh ki jo kalpana thi, ye mulk, azadi ki ladai ke dauran ek tasavvur tha hamara ki hum angrezon ke jaane ke baad kis tarah ka desh banayenge, aur hamari ye kalpana thi, hamara ye vishwas tha ki hum aisa desh banaenge jahan koi fark nahi padega ki aap is bhagwan ko maane, ya us allah ko maane, ya kisi ko na maane. Koi fark nahi padega ki aap is jati ke hain, ya woh bhasha bolte hain, aap garib ho ya ameer ho, aurat ho ya mard ho, aap har tarah se, har tarah se barabar ke insaan hain, barabar ke is desh ke nagrik hain, is desh ka aap par utna hi haq hai jitna kisi aur ka.

Aaj jab is desh ke musalmon se sawal poochcha ja raha hai ki aap apne is desh ke prati apni mohabbat ko saabit karen, sawal ye hai ki, pahle, wo log ye sawal poochch rahe hain jinhone azadi ki ladai mein kabhi bhi hissa nahi liya, koi kurbani nahin di.

Jo yahan Musalman bhai or behen hain, mere bachche hain, aap log Indian by choice hain. Hum baaqi log Indian by chance hain. Hamein koi choice nahi tha, hamare liye yahi ek desh tha. Aap ke paas choice tha aur aap ke poorvajon ne ye desh chuna hai.

Aaj jo sarkar mein hain, wo saabit karne ki koshish kar rahe hain ki Jinnah sahi the aur Mahatma Gandhi galat the. Unki party ka naam Bharatiya Janata Party se badal ke Bharatiya Jinnah Party banana chahiye. Kyo ki Jinnah sahib ne kaha tha ki ye Hindustan ek desh nahi hai, do desh hain — Muslim Pakistan aur Hindu Hindustan. Hum ye kahte hai ki ye ek hi desh hai, Hindustan, aur is desh par is desh ke Musalman, Hindu, Sikh, Isai aur nastik, Adivasi, dalit, garib-amir, mahila- purush, sab ko har tarah se barabar ka haq hai.

Aur jo aap se ye sawal poochchta hai aur aap ke haq wapas lene ka daava karta hai, unka virodh, ye poore desh main ek sailav shuru hua hai. Aur ye apne desh ke samvidhan aur apne samvidhan ki atma, jo mohabbat hai, jo bandhuta hai — usko bachane ke liye, usko bachane ke liye hum log sab sadak par nikle hain aur nikle rahenge.

Dekhiye, ye ladai sansad mein nahin jeeti jaayegi. Kyonki hamare jo rajnaitik dal hain, jo apne aap ko secular kahte hain, unme us tarah ki naitik saahas nahi rahi ladne ke liye.

Ye ladai Supreme Court mein bhi nahin jeeti jaayegi kyonki hum ne Supreme Court ko dekha hai pichle kuch waqt se — NRC ke maamle mein, Ayodhya ke maamle main, Kashmir ke maamle mein — Supreme Court ne insaniyat aur samaanta aur secularism ki raksha nahin ki hai. Wahan koshish zaroor karenge, hamara Supreme Court hai, lekin faisla na sansad mein na Supreme Court mein hoga.

Is desh ka kya bhavishya hoga – aap log sab naujawan hain, aap apne bachchon ko kis tarah ka desh dena chahte hai, ye faisla kahan hoga? Ek, sadkon par hoga, lekin — aur hum sab sadkon pe nikle hain — lekin sadkon se bhi badh ke ek aur jagah mein iska faisla hoga. Kaun si jagah mein is ladai ka faisla sab se zyada hoga? Woh hai apne dilon mein – mere dil mein, aapke dilon mein.

Hame iska jawab… agar woh nafrat bharna chahte hon, hum uska jawab agar nafrat se hi denge, toh nafrat hi gehra hoga. Agar desh mein koi andhera jagah hai aur hum log kahenge ki hum aur andhera karenge, ladne ke liye, toh andhera toh aur gehra hi hoga.

Agar andhera hai to uska saamna sirf chirag jalana, aur poori aandhi hai aur usme hum apna chirag jalaayenge, usi se ye andhera khatam hoga. Isliye, unke nafrat ka jawab hamare paas ek hi hai aur woh hai mohabbat. Woh himsa karenge, wo himsa ke liye hamein bhadkaayenge, hum himsa kabhi na karen.

Aap zaroor samajhiye, ki unki saazish hai aap ko himsa ke liye woh bhadkaayenge, hum bhadkenge — hum 2 pratishat himsa karenge, woh 100 pratishat ka jawab denge. Gandhi ji se hamne seekha hai [ke] himsa ka aur na-insaafi ka jawab, aur sabse zyaada apne ahimsa se hamein ladna hai. Kabhi bhi kisi ko bhi, aapko, himsa ke liye aur nafrat ke liye jo koi bhadkaaye woh aap ka saathi nahin.

Main ek naara doonga:

Samvidhaan!

[audience responds] Zindabad!

Samvidhaan

[audience responds] Zindabad!

Mohabbat!

[audience responds] Zindabad!

Mohabbat!

[crowd responds] Zindabad!

Bahut bahut shukriya saathiyon