20,000 citizens write to EC seeking action against Modi for hate speech

Amnesty India, a human rights organisation, said that Modi’s remarks demonises the Muslim community and puts them at further risk of human rights violations.
PM Narendra Modi addressing a rally at Aligarh
PM Narendra Modi addressing a rally at AligarhX
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Nearly 20,000 people including several activists have written two separate letters to the Election Commission seeking action against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks against Muslims at a public event in Rajasthan’s Banswara. “The Prime Minister’s statements have disturbed the sentiments of millions of Constitution-respecting Indian citizens. The speech is dangerous and a direct attack on the Muslims of India,” they said in a petition to the EC, adding that the Congress manifesto does not say it will collect information about the gold owned by Hindu women and distribute it among Muslims.

Despite increasing public outrage, the Election Commission has “declined to comment” on the matter. Meanwhile, a three-member Congress delegation on Monday, April 22, met EC officials and sought action against the Prime Minister for using religion to persuade voters not to vote for Congress and making false statements against them.  

During a public rally in Rajasthan’s Banswara on April 21, Modi said that the Congress would distribute the country’s wealth among “infiltrators” and “those who have more children”, in an obvious reference to Indian Muslims. He went on to falsely claim that the Congress Manifesto talks about taking a stock of the gold from their “mothers and daughters” and distributing the wealth to Muslims, recalling a speech from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He repeated the claims, although omitting the direct reference to Muslims, for a second time the next day while addressing a public rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh.

A spokesperson from the poll body told the media that they “decline comments” on questions related to Modi’s speech in Banswara. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who led the delegation, said that the Prime Minister had equated the Muslim community with "infiltrators" and made references to Hinduism with his 'mangalsutra' remarks. “PM Modi has violated the model code of conduct and targeted the Constitution. The Election Commission is on trial," he added.

Gautam Bhatia, who writes on law and the Constitution, said, “The Election Commission is a constitutional body, with a constitutional mandate to conduct democratic elections. It can’t decline to comment as if it is the PR arm of some private corporate firm.”

Amnesty India, a human rights organisation, said that Modi’s remarks demonises the Muslim community and puts them at further risk of human rights violations. This toxic rhetoric needs to end now, they added. 

Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) founder Jagdeep S Chhokar, who was among the petitioners against the electoral bond scheme at the Supreme Court, wrote a letter to the Election Commission. He said that the Prime Minister had violated Sections 123(3), 123(3A), and Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951. “I urge the Commission to take appropriate action on the violations as described above with information to the undersigned. Given the election is already underway, it is absolutely necessary that the action be taken without any loss of time,” the letter reads.

During the 2019 general elections, the Supreme Court told the Election Commission that it was “duty-bound to take action and cannot sleep over such issues'' on a petition seeking strict action against political parties and their leaders who make religion and caste-based remarks. The poll body at that time had expressed its limitations and said that they had sent notices to Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for alleged hate speech. 

Read: Bal Thackeray was banned for communal speech, what about PM Modi?

Along with demanding action against PM Modi, the Congress delegation submitted a list of 16 complaints, some of which include: 

  1. Complaint against the BJP for using Narendra Modi’s image along with Governmental Schemes in their political advertisements in Uttar Pradesh.

  2. Complaint against the use of religious figures and places of worship in political advertisements and other such campaigning material by the BJP.

  3. Complaint against news channels for projecting religion as an election issue and propagating an “Us vs. Them” narrative between different religious groups and the political parties which ‘support’ them.

  4. Representation against the BJP’s continued use of the Armed Forces in its election campaign and political advertising. 

  5. Representation against Doordarshan News’ new saffron logo; seeking investigation into the said decision being made during the election period for the 18th Lok Sabha Elections.

  6. Representation against an Order passed by the Returning Officer, Surat Parliamentary Constituency, cancelling the nomination of Congress candidate Nilesh Kumbhani.

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