India’s Supreme Court said Wednesday it will handle a petition filed to hold several Hindu religious leaders accountable for delivering highly provocative hate speeches against Muslims at a closed-door meeting last month.
Three Supreme Court judges said they had issued a notification to the Uttarakhand state government that they would investigate the case next week.
According to the police complaint, the religious leaders asked Hindus to arm themselves to carry out “genocide” against Muslims at their gathering in the holy city of Haridwar in Uttarakhand last December. Police said they had interrogated the suspects, but made no arrests.
Uttarakhand state is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Nationalist Party, which rose to power in 2014. His convincing victory in 2019 re-election has led to a spike in attacks against Muslims and other minority groups.
The petition, initiated by retired Hakim Anjana Prakash, stated that the speech delivered at the meeting of Hindu leaders “poses a grave threat not only to the unity and integrity of the country, but also endangers the lives of millions of Muslims,” said Bar & Bench, an online portal for legal news. India. The number of Muslims in India makes up almost 14 percent of India’s 1.4 billion population.
Last month, Indian police arrested a Hindu leader for allegedly making speeches insulting Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi and praising his killer.
Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead by a Hindu extremist at a prayer meeting in the Indian capital in 1948, because he was seen as sympathetic to Muslims during the partition of the Indian subcontinent by British colonialists in 1947 into secular India and Islamic Pakistan.
Kalicharan Maharaj was arrested in Madhya Pradesh state for allegedly inciting hatred between religious groups in a speech.
According to media reports, Maharaj said “Gandhi is destroying the country… salute to Nathuram Godse, who killed him.” If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to five years. [ab/uh]