Indian lawyers call for action over anti-Muslim hate speeches

    A group of senior lawyers in India have written a letter to the country’s Chief Justice, NV Ramana, asking him to take action over two recent events at which hate speeches were given calling for the genocide of Muslims to achieve ethnic cleansing.

    The move comes as opposition party members questioned the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.

    A Hindu religious assembly was held last week in the city of Haridwar in Uttarakhand state, during which Muslims were openly targeted by Hindu leaders who had assembled for the three-day event.

    In a separate programme held in New Delhi on Dec 19, Hindu leaders were seen attacking Muslims and taking an oath to die for and to kill to make India a Hindu nation.

    The lawyers in their letter said the “events and speeches delivered…are not mere hate speeches but amount to an open call for murder of an entire community”.

    “The speeches of the speakers pose a grave threat not just to the unity and integrity of our country but also endanger the lives of millions of Muslim citizens,” they added.

    After videos of the religious assembly went viral last week on social media, police registered a case against the former chairman of the Shia Central Waqf Board in Uttar Pradesh, Wasim Rizvi, who recently converted to Hinduism and is known by the name Jitendra Narayan Tyagi.

    The opposition Congress party has also slammed the government following attacks on churches and the silence of Prime Minister Modi.

    “The Haridwar hate speeches, attacks on churches and murders in the name of religion are all advanced symptoms of a society and polity in freefall,” Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the opposition in the upper house of parliament, or Rajya Sabha, said on Monday.

    “India is becoming an example of how quickly a democracy can collapse when institutions fail,” he said.

    Senior Congress leader and former Home Minister P Chidambaram questioned the prime minister’s silence over these hate speeches and attacks on minorities in the country.

    Members of various student organisations also held a protest outside the Uttarakhand Bhavan building in New Delhi against the Haridwar hate gathering. The All India Students Association (AISA), Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Fraternity Movement and other organisations demanded the arrest of Yati Narasinghanand and other Hindutva leaders who called for the genocide of Muslims.

    Meanwhile, police in Uttarakhand state on Sunday added the names of Annapurna Maa, alias Pooja Shakun Pandey and the general secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha; and Dharamdas Maharaj in their First Information Report (FIR), a document prepared by the police when they receive information about the commission of a cognisable offence.

    Uttarakhand Police Director General Ashok Kumar told local media that an investigation is underway. However, no arrests have been made so far.

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