Lawyer and BJP member Ashwini Upadhyay and five others have been arrested over violent anti-Muslim slogans raised at a protest held at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on 8 August.
Police questioned Ashwini Upadhyay, believed to be one of the organisers of the protest, till late last night along with other accused.
The arrests followed outrage over videos that showed a group shouting slogans questioning Muslims’ patriotism at Jantar Mantar, a protest site in central Delhi.
In clips on social media, “Ram, Ram” chants were raised along with, allegedly, threats to kill Muslims. “Hindustan mein rehna hoga ‘Jai Sri Ram’ kehna hoga (To stay in India, must say Jai Sri Ram),” the group shouted barely a mile from the parliament and top government offices.
Ashwini Upadhyay has denied any involvement in the sloganeering. “I have submitted a complaint to Delhi Police to examine the video that went viral. If the video is authentic, then strict action should be taken against the persons who were involved in it,” he said.
“I have no idea who they are. I have never seen them, never met them and neither called them there. Till the time I was there, they were not seen there. If the video is fake, then a propaganda is being circulated to defame Bharart Jodo Andolan,” he said.
According to Deepak Yadav, DCP, New Delhi, people who had gathered at Jantar Mantar had no permission for the assembly. “It has come to our due notice that some people raised inciting and objectionable slogans as well. We have also received a video and have registered FIR in the case. We are carrying out further investigation into the matter. Necessary action will be taken at the earliest.” he said.
While leftists are questioning the police for not arresting those behind the event like Ashwini Upadhayay for ‘hate speech’, a significant section of the so-called Hindu right have been increasingly asking for the past two years whether the RSS and BJP are Hindu enough and whether they have turned ‘secular’ too ― with the criticism reaching a crescendo following Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat’s “common DNA” remark.
The police acted on 9 August evening and rounded up suspects for questioning.
The police claim they had denied permission to the protest over Covid-19 precautions but a crowd showed up. TV actor (of Yudhishthir fame acquired from BR Chopra’s Mahabharat) and BJP leader Gajendra Chauhan was present in the protest though he is not seen in the clips.
Save India’s director Preet Singh is among those arrested. The others are Vinod Sharma, Deepak Singh, Vineet Kranti and a suspect identified only by one name, Deepak.