Three Armed Forces Veterans Move to SC Seeking SIT

Three Armed Forces Veterans Move to SC Seeking SIT

New Delhi: Three retired members of the Indian Armed Forces have filed a written petition with the Supreme Court requesting that a special investigation team be set up to investigate anti-Muslim hate speech at the Haridwar and Delhi ‘Dharma Sansad’ events.

The three petitioners are Major General SG Vombatkere, Colonel PK Nair and Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury.

“The divisive and seditious speeches being made violate not only the criminal law of the country, but also attack the core of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. These speeches stain the secular fabric of the nation and also have serious potential to negatively affect public order,” the petition says.

The petitioners point out that such incidents, if left unchecked, can “have a serious impact on the morale and integration of soldiers in the armed forces” who, the petition stresses, come from “diverse communities and religions”.

The petitioners also noted that their experience is that such hate speech can “even affect the battle efficiency of our Armed Forces and, in turn, compromise national security.”

The petition cites election lines from conclaves in Haridwar and Delhi to point to how speakers have whistled and called for the killing of Muslims.

‘Speaker A’ even warned that “if you want to wipe out their (Muslim) population, then we are ready to kill them. Even if 100 of us are ready to become soldiers, we can kill 20 lakh of them, then we will be victorious,” the petition reads.

“’Speaker J’ said in a speech that “Either prepare to be killed or prepare to kill. Like Myanmar, our police, our
politicians, our army and all Hindus must take up arms and organize ethnic cleansing,” the petition further states.

The petition notes that speakers at Dharma Sansad events pulled no punches in their open community gatherings.

“Hate speech of such a blatantly unconstitutional and vile character has perhaps not been made so openly since before India’s independence,” the petition urges.

Previously, on January 10, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a PIL seeking action against those who made hate speech during the recent Dharma Sansad held in Haridwar in Uttarakhand.

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana took note of submissions by lead counsel Kapil Sibal that despite the filing of a first information report (FIR), no arrests had been made in the case.

The current petition also notes that no arrests have been made in the case thus far, while at least two FIRs have been filed.

Meanwhile, Uttarakhand police have made their first arrest in the hate speech case, nabbing Waseem Rizvi, now known as Jitendra Narayan Tyagi. Videos of the arrest show Dharma Sansad leader Narsinghanand saying, “You will all die.”

Last year, Major General Vombatkere challenged the constitutionality of the sedition offense under section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, as being “vague” and creating a “chilling effect on freedom of expression”.

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