Delhi police on Monday registered an FIR against two Twitter handles belonging to a journalist and a news portal in connection with a “Hindu Mahapanchayat” where several journalists had accused a crowd of assaulting them on Sunday.
The action came hours after Delhi police registered FIRs against controversial priest Yati Narasinghanand Saraswati and other speakers at the “Hindu Mahapanchayat” in the capital’s Burari ground where hate speeches were allegedly delivered against Muslims
The FIRs have been registered for going ahead with the event despite denial of police permission and also for assaulting journalists. No arrests had been made till Monday evening, police sources said.
Sadhus and Hindutva activists made up the 700-800 people who were present at the venue. Seven journalists covering the Mahapanchayat were attacked by participants. While all seven were pushed and shoved, three Muslim journalists were alleged punched and kicked when the crowd learnt their identities.
The police said Faisal had tweeted that he and a fellow journalist were beaten up because of their “Muslim identity by Hindu mob”.
“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,” Faisal had said in a tweet on Sunday
A police officer said the fourth FIR was registered over two tweets relating to the Mahapanchayat.
“An FIR under Section 505(2) of the IPC has been registered against the Twitter handles for content which could incite enmity, hatred and ill-will between two communal groups, and an investigation has been taken up,” the officer said.
The FIR was filed against two tweets — one by journalist Meer Faisal, who was among the seven scribes who complained of the attack on Sunday — and another by the news portal Article 14.Article 14 had also tweeted on Sunday: “5 journalists, 4 of them Muslim, 1 on assignment for @Artcile14live, have been taken by police to the Mukherjee Nagar police station in Delhi after a mob at #Hindu #dharamsansad (for which the police had declined permission) discovered their religion, attacked them & deleted videos.
The police had denied that the journalists were detained.
Deputy commissioner (North West Delhi) Usha Rangnani tweeted on Sunday that no reporter was detained and due police protection was provided to them.
Rangnani had said: “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.”
A former IPS officer who had served in Delhi police said it was strange that the police had acted against a journalist who was allegedly attacked by the crowd.
“It is very strange that police have filed an FIR against a journalist who was assaulted by the mob and also a news portal for tweeting on the incident. This is nothing but an intimidation tactic,” he said.
“Instead of arresting Yati Narasinghanand who is seen in several videos giving open hate speeches against Muslims, the police are now intimidating journalists. What has stopped them from arresting Narasinghanand and the organiser of the event for which the police had declined permission?” asked the former IPS officer.
Referring to the three other FIRs, a police officer said the first related to organising the event despite refusal of permission and delivering provocative speeches.
In a statement, the police said they had received a request in North West district from Preet Singh, president of the Save India Foundation, seeking permission to organise the event.
“The request was denied on the ground that the organiser had no permission from the land-owning agency — the Delhi Development Authority — for organising the event at the Burari ground. Despite the denial by Delhi police, on Sunday, organiser Preet Singh reached the ground with his supporters in the morning and started organising the Hindu Mahapanchayat sabha. Around 700-800 people gathered at the event and the invitees of the organiser started delivering speeches from the stage,” the statement said.
Narasinghanand had been arrested in January after he had organised a “Dharma Sansad” in Haridwar where calls for genocide against Muslims had been issued. He had been booked by Uttarakhand police on the lesser charge of making objectionable remarks against women of a particular religion and he obtained bail within a few days.
Preet Singh had been arrested by Delhi police last year for organising an event similar to Sunday’s Mahapanchayat at Jantar Mantar where slogans calling for violence against Muslims were allegedly chanted. He is out on bail.
The police have registered a second FIR based on a complaint from two journalists of a news portal.
“The complainants alleged that around 1.30pm on Sunday when they were rushing towards the exit, they were manhandled and assaulted by a group of people who also tried to snatch their mobile phones and I-cards,” a police officer said.
The third FIR was registered, the officer said, on the complaint of a freelance journalist who alleged that some people assaulted them when he and two other journalists were interviewing a man at the venue around 1pm. “A police team had immediately intervened and ensured their safety,” the officer said.