There can be no delay in registering FIRs over alleged hate speeches, a furious Delhi High Court told Delhi Police this afternoon, chastising the cops for being slow to react in such cases. 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 in open court during a hearing seeking filing of FIRs against those who incited and participated in violence that rocked the national capital for a fourth straight day today and has left 23 dead and nearly 200 injured.
“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? Just register FIRs!” Justice S Muralidhar, leading a two-member bench, directed, adding, “Solicitor General (Tushar Mehta) himself is saying these videos are inflammatory”.
In its strongly-worded observations 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”, and that the Commissioner, Amulya Patnaik, would have to “immediately register FIRs in respect of inflammatory speeches”.
“The Commissioner shall follow Lalita Kumari guidelines and seriously consider the consequences of not registering the FIR. No one is above the Rule of Law”, the court declared.
The court also directed Mr Mehta, who was representing Delhi Police, to convey its strong displeasure to the Police Commissioner.
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.
He made similarly shocking comments earlier this month, while campaigning for the Delhi Assembly elections, referring to anti-CAA protest spots as “mini-Pakistans”.
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.