Failure to act against hate speech in the Center and in the States is the real “double-drive effect”

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In his election speeches, Prime Minister Modi often refers to the “double engine” effect, describing why the people of a state would benefit from voting for the BJP since there is a BJP government at the Center. India has found a whole new interpretation of this in recent developments – the dual driving effect against constitutional guarantees and democratic standards, for example, the lack of action against the hate speech of BJP leaders by governments. of BJP in the Center and in the States.

The Prime Minister has chosen to promote in his cabinet a man who, a little over a year ago, made offensive speeches targeting the minority community, shouting slogans like “goli maro” (shoot them). Hearing a slew of petitions in the context of the Delhi violence in February 2020, the Delhi High Court performed speeches made by Anurag Thakur, then Deputy Minister of Finance, and other BJP leaders in open court and called on the police to take action. . Instead, the judge was transferred. All hate speech cases, including one filed by this author, are still pending in court.

States led by the BJP are following suit. The most recent example is that of the so-called Hindu mahapanchayat held last week in Pataudi, in which BJP leader Suraj Pal Amu gave a very community-based speech, widely circulated on social media. No action has been taken against Amu, although a teenager, who opened fire on anti-CAA protesters in Jamia last year, was arrested this week for his provocative speech at the same event. Amu had given a similar speech a month earlier in Indri village, Nuh district. It followed the murder of a young gym trainer named Asif. Amu led the communitarization of crime in a meeting called to demand the release of those arrested for the murder. The administration bowed to Amu’s threats and released four of the 12 defendants. There was a veil of fear and terror among Muslims in the region. I had visited the area as part of a delegation, after which we filed a complaint against Amu’s hate speech in the local thana. We also met with district officials and later wrote to the Chief Minister. Instead of taking action, Amu was promoted as one of the official spokespersons for BJP a week after his community rant – the twin-engine effect.

Contrary to the protection afforded to Amu and his cronies, the Haryana police obtained an FIR filed by one of their police chiefs in Hisar against journalist Rajesh Kundu in April. Kundu, through its web portal and popular social media platforms, had been a staunch supporter of the kisan struggle. He had issued a warning that anti-Kisan forces were preparing caste-based incidents before Ambedkar Jayanti to disrupt the unity of the people. He was accused of causing “enmity between classes” and “disrupting national unity”. After strong reluctance from journalists’ associations, the case was suspended, but not withdrawn.

The different standards applied in the Kundu and Amu cases by the Haryana police are dictated by the default political strategy shaped by the BJP and the RSS. This is the organization of communal mahapanchayats against the very popular kisan panchayats in support of the fight for the repeal of the three agricultural laws. The social boycott of elected officials of the ruling regime, including the kisan demonstrations attended by the chief minister, comes up against this strategy of division.

Community policy is also aided by extremely weak, vague and inadequate legal frameworks on hate speech. Following a Supreme Court directive in the case of Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan v. Union of India Law Commission, in its 57-page report, made concrete recommendations in 2017 to the government on “prohibiting incitement to hatred” and “provoking fear, alarm, or provocation to violence in some cases. But this report was ignored. Much more vigorous intervention in the prevention and suppression of hate speech is required from the citizens and political parties concerned.

The writer is a member of the CPM politburo


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