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Hate speech until it suits vote politics

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on October 25, 2022 with No Comments

An elected representative from nation’s capital and from the ruling party Parvesh Verma at a rally said, “We will not buy anything from their shops. We will not give them any work, we will not buy vegetables from their handcarts, we will not engage them. We will have to enforce a total economic boycott if we want to fix them, once and for all.” Very smartly he didn’t mention the community he wanted his followers to boycott, but he was indeed referring to a minority community which the ruling party always targets through its hate speech. Speaking at the same event, Nand Kishor Gurjar, a BJP legislator from Uttar Pradesh, showed even less restraint: “Our beautiful city has become a city of pigs.”

Delhi police directly under the Home Minister Amit Shah, had booked  anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protesters for sedition, or under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and under Section 153 of the IPC, with far less provocation, lawmakers like Verma and Gurjar, and self-styled saints openly calling for genocide, have been left alone. Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code says clearly that words and action that creates enmity between groups on the basis of religion, race, caste or language is an offence carrying punishment with imprisonment that can extend to three years, or fine or both. The administrations took action against the anti CAA protestors where no such call was ever given, but the hate speech by the elected representatives has been ignored as they hail from the ruling party.

Over the years, hate speech directed at Muslims has become a norm, and modestly same is ignored. Any act of hate speech by a political leader is swept under the carpet on the pretext that an investigation is going on. No wonder, even the Prime Minister Modi had famously said that miscreants can easily be recognised by their clothes, making an obvious refer to the attire of the Muslims.

The citizens’ report, titled Uncertain Justice, prepared by  the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), a body of retired civil servants, under the supervision of a panel headed by Justice Madan Lokur (former Supreme Court judge)  documents the VIP hate speeches in 2019 that preceded the riots. It quotes Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma saying in a video on 28 January 2020, while referring to the anti-CAA protesters has called for killing a minority community labeling them “traitors”.

Indians are unhappy with the stance taken by these two leaders of BJP, since their words are an attempt to polarize the Indians with an eye on the forthcoming elections in two states of Himachal Pardesh and Gujarat. But the party and the leaders in the government have maintained a silence.

The Supreme Court of India asked the Centre to explain its silence on hate speech and spoke of the need for stricter regulation. Hate speech is a political problem, its solution must be found politically. Those whose writ runs in the government or party need to draw the line. But will they, till the time their hate speech suits their vote politics?



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