Raja Singh’s hate speech on Mira Road: PUCL questions Maharashtra cops’ delayed action

The Bombay HC granted permission for Raja Singh’s rally in February on the condition that he doesn’t make hate speeches. Yet, he made a 40-minute inflammatory speech and was booked only a month later.
Raja Singh
Raja Singh
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Controversial Bharatiya Janata Party legislator from Hyderabad Raja Singh has been booked in yet another hate speech case by the Maharashtra police, but this happened nearly a month after the incident on February 25, on Mira Road, Thane. After an FIR was registered belatedly by the Mira Bhayandar Vasai Virar (MBVV) police on March 23, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has called for strict action against the Goshamahal MLA for his anti-Muslim hate speech made at the the Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha organised by the right-wing group Sakal Hindu Samaj. 

In a 40-minute speech, Raja Singh is accused of inciting violence against Muslims by distorting history, and spreading communal propaganda by making baseless claims related to ‘love jihad’, alleged encroachment of land by Muslims, forced religious conversions, cow slaughter, etc.

Mira Road witnessed communal clashes in January following the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Raja Singh was initially denied police permission for conducting a rally on Mira Road, but was later permitted by the Bombay High Court on the condition that he would not make any hate speech. Raja Singh was also made to submit an undertaking to the relevant Deputy Commissioner of Police, saying he would abide by this condition. 

The rally was conducted to commemorate the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Raja Singh along with the organiser of the event Naresh Nile have been booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). 

Read: 101 cases, just 1 conviction: How BJP's Raja Singh keeps getting away

PUCL has written to Maharashtra Director General of Police Rashmi Shukla, citing several excerpts from Raja Singh’s speech wherein he called for violence against Muslims. Calling on the attendees to fight for the establishment of a Hindu nation, Raja Singh allegedly said, “We will

take a pledge to keep fighting against love jihad, cow slaughter and forced religious conversions.” ‘Love jihad’ is a bogey term used by right-wing groups to claim that Muslim men ‘lure’ Hindu women into romantic relationships with the intent of forcing them to convert to Islam, despite the Union government admitting in the Parliament in 2020 that it had no data on any such occurrences. 

PUCL also laid out several other examples of Raja Singh making baseless, exaggerated claims from history about Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji and Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The letter also mentioned several instances in his speech where Raja Singh used communal slurs to refer to Muslims. Addressing Hyderabad MP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, Raja Singh also said, “Hey Owaisi, listen to me son, till now we have only reclaimed Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura are still left.” 

In its letter to the DGP, PUCL wrote, “All the specific acts of force and violence incited are illegal, have genocidal tendencies and threaten law and order, yet [Raja Singh] is seriously advocating it publicly before thousands of attendees. What is even more egregious is the fact that as an elected member of the ruling party, he assured the people present at the meeting that no harm would come to them if they engaged in violence against the minority community.” 

PUCL noted that even though police were present at the rally, they did not stop the hate speech and arrest Raja Singh and the organisers. On being asked about the month-long delay in registered an FIR, a police officer told Indian Express that they had gone through the speech that the police had recorded and sought legal opinion before making out an offence. 

PUCL also demanded that more crucial charges be added to the case, such as Sections 121A (conspiring to wage war against the Government of India), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153B (imputation, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC. The letter questioned why the case was being watered down despite Raja Singh having over 104 FIRs registered against him, many of which involve hate speeches. It also questioned the police for not taking any steps towards arresting Raja Singh, or reporting the violation of its order to the High Court. 

PUCL also pointed out past Supreme Court orders that took cognisance of hate speech at rallies organised by Sakal Hindu Samaj and associated groups, and directed the Maharashtra police to take suo moto action and register FIRs under Sections 153A, 153B, 295A and 505 of the IPC on the occurrence of hate speech. 

The letter called on the DGP to add more relevant charges to the case, add the names of other organisers and speakers at the event, ensure a fair and timely probe, and take action against the police officers who failed to stop the hate speech. 

Earlier this year too, Raja Singh was booked for delivering hate speeches at another ‘Hindu Jan Aakrosh’ rally in Solapur, Maharashtra on January 6. 

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