There should be no delay in registering FIRs over alleged hate speeches, a furious Delhi High Court told Delhi Police this afternoon, urging the cops to “seriously consider consequences”.
The court’s comment came after a tension-filled hearing in which videos of hate speeches by four BJP leaders – Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Abhay Verma and Parvesh Verma – were played during a hearing seeking filing of FIRs against those who incited and participated in violence that rocked Delhi for a fourth straight day today, leaving at least 27 dead and over 200 injured.
“Why shouldn’t there be an FIR against these four BJP leaders… including Union Minister, MP and MLA? You showed alacrity in registering FIRs for damages to property and arson. Why aren’t you registering it for these speeches? Don’t you even want to acknowledge the presence of a crime?” Justice S Muralidhar, leading a two-member bench, asked.
Directing Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik to follow guidelines that oblige filing of FIRs if a cognizable offence is reported, the court has given time till Thursday for police to take a “conscious decision” on the matter and convey the same to the court.
The court also said it would not concern itself with only those videos it had seen, noting, “all videos concerning this matter shall be communicated to the Commissioner”.
In strongly-worded comments, the court also said it would not allow “another 1984 scenario”, referring to the bloody anti-Sikh riots that killed over 3,000 in Delhi alone.
The hearing has been adjourned till Thursday.
Unrelenting violence has consumed northeast Delhi since Sunday, as groups for and against the controversial citizenship law clash.
Stone throwing, arson and vandalism have been reported as goons rampage through the streets armed with iron rods, sticks and guns.
Smoke has been seen rising from multiple spots as buildings, shops and, in one instance, a petrol pump were set ablaze.
Speeches by Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Abhay Verma and several other BJP leaders have been singled out for allegedly encouraging violence against those protesting the law.
Hours before the Delhi violence broke out Mr Mishra was caught on video giving Delhi Police an ultimatum – clear anti-CAA protesters from Jaffrabad and Chandbagh or face consequences.
In the same campaign Mr Thakur, who is a Union Minister, was caught on video urging people to “goli maaro“ (gun down) traitors” shortly before gunmen opened fire at anti-CAA protesters in Delhi.
The third tape the court listened to was another election speech – this time by BJP Lok Sabha MP Parvesh Verma. In it Mr Verma, who is the West Delhi parliamentarian, said: “Lakhs of people gather there (Shaheen Bagh). They will enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters, kill them. There’s time today… Modi-ji and Amit Shah won’t come to save you tomorrow”.
The fourth speech showed Abhay Verma, the BJP MLA from Lakshmi Nagar in east Delhi, marching through the streets repeating the “goli maaro” slogan.
The petition seeking filing of FIRs named Mr Mishra as one of those who had incited the violence.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who has been put in charge of restoring normalcy, told NDTV there are enough forces on the ground and that no one needs to fear.
His comments came after reports last night that Delhi Police told the Union Home Ministry – to whom it reports – that it had insufficient resources to deal with the violence. The Delhi Police Commissioner hit back shortly after that report, insisting cops had full support of the ministry.