Fresh Hate Speech Adds to Environment of Fear
Northeast Delhi had witnessed anti-Muslim violence from February 23 to February 25 2020
Nisar Ahmad is tense as he looks at videos from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) event held in Delhi on October 9. The video showed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament Parvesh Verma calling for the "total boycott" of a community, in remarks purportedly aimed at Muslims.
Verma, referred to "these people" in his boycott call and did not name a specific community as videos on social media showed. The politician made the comments at a "Virat Hindu Sabha" organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and some other Hindutva organisations to protest against the killing of a man named Manish in Delhi's Sunder Nagri area on October 1.
While the Delhi Police has registered a first information report (FIR) against the organisers of the event, the speech has left the residents of Northeast Delhi feeling uncomfortable.
Northeast Delhi had witnessed anti-Muslim violence from February 23 to February 25 2020. The event was organised in the same locality where communal violence had taken place. In the violence 53 people, mostly Muslims were killed and hundreds were injured.
In the violence, Ahmad's house was vandalised and he had almost died. "A mob had entered our house. They were our known people only, which is why I can identify who they were. They beat up my wife and threatened my daughters, we somehow managed to run away," he said.
Ahmad used to live in Northeast Delhi's Bhagirathi Vihar but has since shifted to Mustafabad.
"Things have changed since the violence. This incident has left us with anxiety, because we can not see another scene of violence," he told The Citizen.
The BJP leaders spoke at an event 'Virat Hindu Sabah' organised by VHP and Bajrang Dal on October 9 after Manish was murdered. Manish was brutally stabbed to death by a group of men, reportedly due to an old rivalry, in his locality, Sunder Nagri.
Visuals of the murder were captured on a CCTV nearby. The police identified three accused Aalam, Bilal, and Faizan, all residents of the same locality.
The incident happened in the same area, where riots had taken place, while the 'Virat Hindu Sabah' was also organised there. "This is just a way to provoke people and nothing else. We all are already living with the trauma of the past and they want to create tensions by giving hate speech in a sensitive area," Fatima, a social activist in Mustafabad said.
Ahmad, who had to start his life from scratch, is very nervous thinking about this. "We cannot see other riots in the area. And this event has left things tense," he said.
Another resident of Mustafabad Ali (name changed) whose son was killed by a mob during the riots said that it is concerning how still such speeches were made.
"Last time another BJP leader made a speech and look what happened. This time too we are witnessing similar patterns. It is scary," he said.
On February 23, 2020, Kapil Mishra, had issued an ultimatum to anti-CAA protesters who were camping at Delhi's Jaffrabad to end their agitation and threatened to "remove them" from the protest site.
Many activists and politicians termed Mishra's speech as inciteful and accused him of being responsible for the communal clashes that ensued.
Meanwhile, other residents have claimed that tensions flare up in the area whenever any violence or incident related to Muslims happen. "You can hear chants of Jai Sri Ram at night, or some fights. So many people have left the area because of this," a resident of Mustafabad, who did not wish to reveal his name, said.
However, VHP has denied the allegation and said that the police even suggested them the venue. "Let alone permission, we fixed the venue at Ramleela Ground in Dilshad Garden after suggestion and recommendation by senior police officers," Vishwa Hindu Parishad spokesperson Vinod Bansal told PTI. "We earlier had planned to hold the gathering near Manish's house but on the request of police changed it to Ramlila Maidan."
During Sunday's event, Verma urged the crowd to boycott the community by not supporting their business. "Wherever you see them, I say that if you want to set their minds straight...then there is only one remedy, that is complete boycott," Verma said.
"Do you agree with this? Raise your hand if you agree. Say with me 'we will completely boycott them, we will not buy any goods from their shops, we will not employ them'," he added.
However, in his statement to the Indian Express, Verma had said that he had not named any religious community in his comments. "What I said was that the families whose members carry out such killings should be boycotted," the BJP MP from West Delhi claimed.
"Such families, if they run any restaurant or any business, should be boycotted. There have been such crimes in my area also. And in such cases, their business should be boycotted," he added.
The 2020 riots affected hundreds of lives and many believed could have been avoided. "It was the same way this is happening, hate speech and creating this environment of fear," Ali added.