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Hate speech ‘itself a form of violence’, says Gurugram court, denies Jamia gunman’s bail

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GURUGRAM: A local court on Friday rejected the bail application of a youth from Greater Noida, who was arrested on July 12 by Haryana Police for a hate speech he had delivered at a mahapanchayat earlier in the month in Pataudi in which he called for attacks on the Muslim community.

Judicial magistrate (first class) Mohammad Sageer, while rejecting bail, observed that the consequences of such activities may be “far more dangerous and may translate into communal violence”. The court said the accused’s speech was “itself a form of violence” and such acts could not be “tolerated in any civilised society”.

This is the second time in two years that the youth, now believed to be 19 years old, has been booked and taken into custody. He had faced the law as a juvenile after firing at Citizenship Amendment Act protesters near Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi on January 30 last year.

The court observed that every citizen has the right to express thoughts but not in a manner targeting a community and promoting enmity. “He seems to be very proud of his antecedents. He even instigated people to kill persons of a particular community and chanted slogans in this regard… Such activities cannot be tolerated in any civilised society. Hate speech based on religion and caste has become fashionable these days,” the court said, adding the accused’s speech was “itself a form of violence and such people and their inflammatory speeches are obstacles to the growth of a true democratic spirit”.

“Religious tolerance is the need of the time and not intolerance. It is necessary for individuals within the society to get along, especially when a variety of cultures and people with different religious beliefs live in one community or nation,” the court observed.

Kulbhushan Bharadwaj, the counsel for the accused, argued that his client had been made a scapegoat and those who were the real culprits were being protected by the cops. “He was not the organizer, nor was he responsible for the entire episode. He delivered a speech after the orators addressed the crowd. Why was only his recording given in court and not of others too?” Bharadwaj argued.

“Even before my client spoke, there were several other orators who used very offensive language and hate speech but only my client has been accused and arrested. There were other orators who were powerful persons and they gave inflammatory speeches, but no action has been taken against them,” the counsel told the court.

The youth had made the remarks at the mahapanchayat that was called to discuss “love jihad” and religious conversions, among other things. The organisers had denied inviting the boy, claiming he had turned up on his own. The mahapanchayat was held at the Ramleela Ground in Pataudi on July 4. A video clip of the youth’s speech was widely shared on social media, leading to calls for legal action against the gathering and the speakers there. “If they can abduct our sisters, why can’t we abduct theirs? From Pataudi, I want to warn people with a ‘terrorist mindset’ that if I can go to Jamia in support of CAA, Pataudi is not very far,” he had purportedly said.

The mahapanchayat was organised under the banner of Hindu Dharm Raksha Manch, led by its president Master Om Singh. It was attended by members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Karni Sena chief and BJP spokesperson Suraj Pal Amu and had participants from 90 adjoining villages. The pamphlets distributed before the gathering read, ‘mahapanchayat against love jihad, market jihad, land jihad and religious conversion’. About 500-600 people participated, according to police.

The Greater Noida youth has been charged under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and engaging in acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the IPC.

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