26, Feb 2020
A copy of the petition is proposed to be forwarded to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, and the chairman, National Human Rights Commission.
Initially signed by Anil Dharker, Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand, Asha Nehemiah, Vinod Nehemiah, Cedric Prakash, Chitra Palekar, Lara Jesani, David D’Costa, Vivek Monteiro, Ritwik Kulkarni, Aravind Venugopal, Sanjeewani Jain, Bilal Khan, Guddi SL, Balaji Kaletwad, Preeti Shekhar and Dr Ashok Dhawale, the petition says, the Indian criminal law has provisions for prosecution of those who incite violence using hate speech, wondering, “Why then is there no action against this BJP leader?”
The North East district of Delhi was plagued by anti-minority violence from February 23, 2020. It cannot be denied that it was inflammatory speech by BJP leader Kapil Mishra that instigated the violence.
On February 23, Mishra led a pro-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) rally close to the site of the anti-CAA protest near the Jafrabad metro station. At the protest site, standing next to a uniformed police officer he said, “We will remain peaceful till Trump leaves. After that we will not listen to you.”
A video of this speech may be viewed here.
The blatant impunity with which he challenged the authority of the police in presence of a uniformed police officer is shocking to say the least. It also encourages people to take the law into their own hands.
Earlier, on the same day Mishra helped build the anti-minority sentiment and support against anti-CAA protesters using a series of tweets.
“The Times of India” quoted him giving the Delhi police a three day ultimatum to remove the protesters saying, “Dilli Police ko teen din ka ultimatum — Jafrabad aur Chand Bagh ki sadkein khali karwaiye..iske baad hamein mat samjhaiyega…hum aapki bhi nahi sunenge… sirf teen din…” (Translation: We give the Delhi police three-day ultimatum to clear the streets of Jafrabad and Chand Bagh. After this, don’t try to make us understand. We will not listen to you. Just three days).
It is the second part of this ultimatum that is chilling as it virtually threatens violence by my supporters in case the police fail to evict the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters. This legitimization of violence is nothing but hate speech as it indirectly incites violence against anti-CAA protesters.
Previous instances where Kapil Mishra incited hate against minorities
On April 4, 2019, Kapil Sharma, MLA from the Karawal Nagar constituency in the Sixth Legislative Assembly of Delhi, tweeted a violence-inducing post, addressed to Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Misrepresenting the Islamic flag (moon and stars on a green background) with that which represents the state of Pakistan, Kapil Mishra tweeted:
“Those who broke down the temples at Ayodhya, Kashi, Mathura and Somnath carried this flag. Those who killed the Sikh Gurus also carried this flag. All terrorists, anywhere, swear by this flag.”
Before that, in February 2019, following the Pulwama terror attack that left 40 CRPF jawans dead, Mishra also posted a series of hate-filled tweets, one of which called for the destruction of the “wombs that give birth to terrorists”. When incidents of violence against Kashmiri students began being reported from across the country, Mishra insisted that the stories were made up and dismissed them as fake news, even though videographic evidence became available.
Mishra’s behaviour has been exceptionally toxic towards women on social media. In a tweet he suggested that designer Farah Khan Ali is part of the ecosystem that nurtures and shelters terrorists, alluding perhaps to her faith. He was particularly vicious towards CPI (ML) Polit Bureau member Kavita Krishnan, when she called him out for inciting genocide in wake of his comment about “wombs that give birth to terrorists”.
“Mishra’s behaviour has been exceptionally toxic towards women on social media. Referring to Kavita Krishnan he spoke of ‘wombs that give birth to terrorists”
But Kapil Mishra reserved his most vile comments for actor Swara Bhaskar. When the actor pointed to his tweet inciting genocide, he made a despicable comment about the actor alluding to a masturbation scene in one of her movies.
In wake of these post-Pulwama comments, AAP suspended Mishra. He officially joined the BJP in August 2019.
We now demand that Kapil Mishra be held accountable for his words and actions. We demand his arrest for instigating interfaith violence in North East Delhi. We also demand that he be prosecuted under relevant sections of the law.
Where the law stands on hateful and inflammatory speech
The first step towards acting on hate speech is to be alert in order to monitor/ tape/video–tape the entire text of such a speech. Sections 153A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) oblige the state to prosecute those guilty of such violations. Section 295 of the CrPC is also a section that can be invoked whenever there are deliberate attempts to disrupt communal harmony.
Thereafter, it is imperative to file a first information report (FIR). Experience shows that in the current political climate the police does not register an FIR and begin an investigation, even though duty bound to do so, unless it has clear political directions. Hence it is important for concerned citizens or organisations to regster a complaint (either in person or by registered post) and, thereafter, if the police do not act, approach the courts to ask that such offences get investigated.
You can file an FIR under section 154 of the CrPC by registering it with a local police station. If the police argue on issues of jurisdiction (delays the action stating that the hate speech or writing was made elsewhere) you can, under law, insist that by hearing these words or such writing in the media/in a pamphlet or on television, you have been aggrieved by it and hence wish to file it there.
In the worst-case scenario, if the police refuse, you can obtain an order from a local Magistrate for registration of an FIR under Section 156(3) of the CrPC.
Complaints can also be filed with social media platforms in case of hate filled posts or tweets. In fact, Twitter has already taken down one tweet by Kapil Mishra dated February 23, 2020. Though it was retweeted, it is no longer visible.
The original report may be read here.