Indian journalists claim they were assaulted, harassed and subjected to religious slurs at a religious event organised by a controversial, militant Hindu priest in the capital New Delhi on Sunday.
According to several reports, hate speech was rampant at the religious event which was organised by Yati Narsinghanand, who is currently out on bail in another case of hate speech.
Mr. Narsinghanand is the head priest of Dasna Devi temple in the National Capital Region’s Ghaziabad area.
During Sunday’s event, called a mahapanchayat, he allegedly exhorted Hindu men to wield weapons against minorities, especially Muslims, in the country to safeguard their religion.
Mr. Narsinghanand allegedly told the crowd of Hindu devotees that half of all Hindus will convert to different religions if a Muslim becomes the prime minister.
In a video clip that was shared on social media, he could be heard saying: “Once a Muslim becomes the PM of this country, then in the next 20 years, 50 per cent of you will change your faith… 40 per cent Hindus will be killed, 10 per cent will get their daughters and sisters married to Muslim men and then either live in a foreign country or in refugee camps.”
He added: “This is the future of Hindus… If you want to change this, then be a man. Who is a man? Someone who keeps weapons.”
Local authorities said the organisers went ahead with the event even though they had not provided permission, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Delhi police on Sunday said they had registered a case against the organisers of the event under charges such as promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc. and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony.
Some journalists who went to cover the event were reportedly not allowed inside because they were Muslim. Some others alleged that they were assaulted or detained by the police.
Officers denied that the journalists had been detained.
Senior police official Usha Rangnani wrote on Twitter: “Some of the reporters, willingly, on their own free will, to evade the crowd which was getting agitated by their presence, sat in a PCR [patrolling]van stationed at the venue and opted to proceed to the police station for security reasons.”
She added: “No one was detained. Due police protection was provided. For spreading misinformation, necessary action shall be initiated against such persons.” (Source: Independent UK)