Seven scribes attacked while covering 'Hindu Mahapanchayat'
Seven journalists were attacked by a crowd on Sunday while covering a “Hindu Mahapanchayat” at Delhi’s Burari ground where hate speeches were delivered against Muslims.
While all seven were pushed and shoved, three Muslim journalists were allegedly punched and kicked when the mob learnt their identities.
The three-hour afternoon conclave of 200 to 250 people, attended by sadhus and Hindutva activists, was organised without police permission, police sources said. There were no answers why the Delhi police, who report to the Union home ministry, allowed an unauthorised programme to be held at a prominent public ground.
Among the journalists attacked were freelancers Arbab Ali and Meer Faisal, photographer Md Meherban, Meghnad Bose of The Quint news website, and Newslaundry reporters Shivangi Saxena and Ronak Bhat. Another journalist, a Muslim, asked not to be named.
Two of the key players involved in the event were hate-campaign accused out on bail.
Chief organiser Preet Singh, president of the NGO Save India Foundation, had been arrested for organising a similar event last August at Jantar Mantar where slogans calling for violence against Muslims were allegedly chanted.
A video circulating on social media purportedly shows Yati Narasinghanand Saraswati, a mahant from Ghaziabad and lead speaker at Sunday’s event, delivering an anti-Muslim speech and urging Hindus to pick up weapons.
“In 20 years, 40 per cent Hindus will be killed. If you want to change this, be a man. A man keeps weapons. (If) India gets a Muslim Prime Minister, 50 per cent of you (Hindus) will change your faith in the next 20 years,” he purportedly says at Sunday’s event.
Narasinghanand had last December convened a Dharma Sansad in Haridwar where he and some others, mostly sadhus, allegedly urged genocide against Muslims towards the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra.
Uttarakhand police had added Narasinghanand’s name belatedly to the FIR, registered under public pressure, but arrested him on weaker charges in a separate case.
“Communal slurs were shouted on me at Hindu mahapanchayat…. We were called jihadis and attacked for being Muslims,” Faisal, one of the journalists, tweeted.
I and @mdmeharban03 were beaten up because of our muslim identity by Hindu mob. Communal slurs were shouted on me at Hindu mahapanchayat at Burari ground in New Delhi. We had gone there to cover the event. We were called jihadis and attacked for being Muslims.— Meer Faisal (@meerfaisal01) April 3, 2022
In a series of tweets, Arbab said he was covering the event for online news portal Artcle14live. “When I showed them my letter and ID, they said it doesn’t matter. You’re a Muslim. They repeatedly called me a Jihadi. They then checked my Aadhaar and said that I am from Jamia (Nagar),” he wrote.
Jamia Nagar is a Muslim neighbourhood in Delhi where Batla House, the venue of a 2008 police encounter with alleged terrorists, is located.
“This happened in India’s capital Delhi. A Mahapanchayat was called where hate speech was raised against Muslims. Muslim journalists were attacked and could have been lynched,” Arbab tweeted.
This happened in India’s capital Delhi. A Mahapanchayat was called where hate speech was raised against Muslims. Muslim journalists were attacked and could have been lynched. All in Delhi! 2/2— Arbab Ali (@arbabali_jmi) April 3, 2022
He said the mob attacked him, Faisal and Meherban.
“Our cameras, phones were snatched by the Right-wing organisations. They said we are from Jamia Nagar and are jihadis,” Arbab wrote.
“They deleted videos from Meer Faisal’s camera and my phone. The Right-wing mob was minutes away from lynching us. The police came and put us in a police van and managed to take us away.”
Deputy commissioner of police (northwest Delhi) Usha Rangnani clarified in a tweet that none of the journalists had been detained.
“Some of the reporters, willingly on their free will, to evade the crowd which was getting agitated by their presence, sat in PCR van stationed at the venue and opted to proceed for police station for security reasons. No one was detained. Due police protection was provided,” she said.
Meghnad Bose told The Telegraph over the phone from Mukherjee Nagar police station that the police had recorded his and the other journalists’ statements.
“A Right-wing mob went berserk towards the end of the event. We could hear hate speeches targeting Muslims being made from the stage. The mob started manhandling journalists and beating up some of us,” he said.
“It was a very scary situation and anything could have happened to us.”
Journalist Somya Lakhani tweeted: “If the Delhi police & the land owning authority DDA had denied permission to Save India Foundation to hold the HinduMahaPanchayat at Burari Ground today, then how did it take place today.”
If the Delhi Police & the land owning authority DDA had denied permission to Save India Foundation to hold the "#HinduMahaPanchayat" at Burari Ground today, then how did it take place today?— Somya Lakhani (@somyalakhani) April 3, 2022
Another Twitter user, Razia Masood, wrote: “Hatemonger Yati Narsinghanand again spews venom against Muslims in Hindu mahapanchayat. Will @Delhipolice tke any action against it? Or else there will be no charge on him, saying that he had laughed and said this.”
Hatemonger Yati Narsinghanand again spews venom against Muslims in Hindu mahapanchayat.Will @DelhiPolice @DCP_NorthWest take any action against it?— Abdul Qadeer (@AbdulQa59362454) April 3, 2022
Or else there will be no charge on him,saying that he had laughed and said this#ArrestYatiNarsinghanand@yogitabhayana @dpkBopanna https://t.co/Bu9ZUo8f16
A Delhi High Court judge had recently triggered controversy by observing during a hate speech hearing that something said “with a smile” entails “no criminality”.