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Did Hindutva extremists mobilise rioters in NE Delhi in February?

Chargesheets accessed by various media houses show that the members of a Whatsapp group 'Kattar Hindu Ekta' talked about killing minorities and making them chant Jai Shri Ram

Sabrangindia 07 Jul 2020

Image Courtesy:indianculturalforum.in

'Kattar Hindu Ekta', a WhatsApp group which literally means Extremist / Radical Hindu Unity, has been named in three chargesheets filed in connection with the alleged killing of three men during the riots in Northeast Delhi that took place this year in February, The Indian Express reported.

The group reportedly had as many as 125 members and chargesheets that have been filed against nine, reportedly detail how the group was used to mobilize rioters and get them to coordinate; how armed men stopped passersby and asked them their name, address, ID proof and told them to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, IE reported. It also reported that the police now plan to use these WhatsApp conversations as “extrajudicial confessions”.

The police also said, “This ‘Kattar Hindut Ekta’ group was created on 25.02.2020 at 12.49 hrs. Initially there were 125 members… total 47 had exited the group by 08.03.2020,” IE reported.

The police added, “They (the accused) resolved to kill Muslims, whoever they came across. From February 25 afternoon to February 26 midnight, these murderers/accused persons, bludgeoned nine Muslim persons to death, whoever they come across or (if they) found someone, (and) injured several persons in Bhagirathi Vihar and other areas.”

Alleged messages in the group

The police reportedly shared some messages from the WhatsApp group from Lokesh Solanki – allegedly identified as the “key accused” and others.

Allegedly, the first message on the intervening night on February 26 and 27 at 11.39 pm was: “Bhai, I am Lokesh Solanki from Ganga Vihar. If there is any problem or a shortage of people, let me know. I will come with the entire Ganga Vihar team. We have everything necessary — bullets, guns, everything.”

At 11:44 Lokesh allegedly posted, “Around 9 pm, near B.Vihar, your brother has killed two Muslims and thrown them into the drain along with my team. Vinay, you know that your brother is always in the front in accomplishing this kind of a job.”

The Wire, which had access to some of the messages from the group, said that the messages not only spoke about murder and violence, but were also posted with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

One of the messages accessed by The Wire read, “Ganga Vihar, Gokul Puri, Jhoripur, In sab jagha gumha Hu. Or 23 mullao k sir faade hai (I have been to Ganga Vihar, Gokul Puri, Jhoripur. And burst open 23 mullahs’ heads.)”

On February 28, a message accessed by The Wire read, “Aaj hmne Bhagirathi Vihar Gali No. 1 me Namaz nhi padne Di Bhaga Diya Mullo ki (Today, we didn’t let Mullahs offer namaz in Bhagirathi Vihar’s Lane no. 1).”

Alleged reference to Kapil Mishra

The group also allegedly made references to BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who on February 23, at a pro-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) rally had threatened to take to the roads with his supporters if the police did not clear the anti-CAA protestors from Jafrabad and Chand Bagh.

The Wire reported that a video of Mishra’s speech was repeatedly posted on the Kattar Hindut Ekta WhatsApp group with the caption: “Kapil Mishra ki iss video ko sunein, samjhein, aur bahut mehnat karke poore Hindustan me bhejein kyun ki ye bahut sahi hai hundred percent desh hith me hai, itna toh kar hi sakte hain mere dost (Listen to Kapil Mishra on this video, understand it and make the effort to send it across India because it is in favour of the nation. Friends, you can do this much at least).”

Alleged reference to RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal

It was reported that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Singh (RSS), the parent organization of the BJP, also surfaced in the group chat a couple of times.

One of the alleged messages accessed by The Wire was, “Brothers, people from RSS have come here to support us in Brijpuri.” Another message read: “Aur 9 mullo ko maar diya gya hai Brijpuri puliya pr (Nine more Muslims have been killed on the Brijpuri bridge).

A report by The Quint had said that 16 members of the RSS had been booked following a complaint by Sahil Parvez in which he had said that his father was murdered by a group of men on February 25. The Quint had confirmed that the 16 accused were either active members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), post-holders (zimmedaar), or had visited the local shakha on and off.

Not only this, according to the media, this groups also makes mention of ‘love jihad’ and ‘Hindu khatre mein hai (the existence of Hindus is in danger), mentions of which will be found all over right-wing groups on social media, signaling that there are many more such people baying for the blood of the minorities on social media’s communal echo chamber.

Plethora of Kattar Hindu Ekta groups on social media

While the police have taken cognizance of the WhatsApp group after chargesheets were filed, it has done nothing to cull such radical Hindutva groups from social media. There are several ‘Kattar Hindu Ekta’ groups and hundreds of ‘Kattar Hindu’ pages on Facebook which regularly post offensive and objectionable content against minorities. However, neither the social platform itself nor the police has done anything to take down these groups.

Below are some of the posts from a group called Hindu Ekta 🚩

 

In another group called कट्टर हिन्दू संगठन 🚩 some posts are as follows –

These are just two examples from the several radical Hindutva groups that are active on social media. All over the world when a group with a certain name is in operation and makes use of social media to pose veiled threats like above, the police works to ensure that the gang is deactivated. Though in India the police have taken cognisance and banned such organisations, it has failed to take action on violent groups that are affiliated to the Hindutva ideology.

While these groups may have no connection to the WhatsApp group ‘Kattar Hindut Ekta’ which is in the news now, they still pose a threat to peace in India and echo similar sentiments and in fact lay the groundwork of hate by vilifying minorities and spreading communal hatred so deep that some people actually act out on it.

It is appalling that people are so fearlessly and proudly declaring themselves to be ‘radical’ Hindus and now there is evidence of these individuals or members of a group being a part of organized violence. It is unfortunate to see that social media platforms like Facebook have not taken any action against such groups and nor has the Cyber police taken cognizance of such messages.

In 2019, Equality Labs conducted a research, ‘Facebook India – Towards the Tipping Point in Violence: Caste and Religious Hate Speech’ which found that 93 percent of all hate speech posts reported to Facebook continued to remain on Facebook. It was also found that 100 percent of all Islamophobic hate speech was later restored. The platform struggles with tackling hate speech when it comes to multiple languages. Times of India reported that Facebook had reported that its hate speech detection algorithms worked in around 40 languages. It is important that Facebook employ more human hands to identify such hate mongering which calls for segregation and social exclusion of the minorities, thus violating hate speech guidelines set by the social media platform. It is also necessary that the platform localizes its hate speech policies and upgrades its algorithms to identify and curb hate speech in the Indian context.

Related:

Outlawed caste-based militia Ranvir Sena issues death threats over social media in Bihar!
Will pulling ad revenue from Facebook impact its policies around hate speech and disinformation?

Did Hindutva extremists mobilise rioters in NE Delhi in February?

Chargesheets accessed by various media houses show that the members of a Whatsapp group 'Kattar Hindu Ekta' talked about killing minorities and making them chant Jai Shri Ram

Image Courtesy:indianculturalforum.in

'Kattar Hindu Ekta', a WhatsApp group which literally means Extremist / Radical Hindu Unity, has been named in three chargesheets filed in connection with the alleged killing of three men during the riots in Northeast Delhi that took place this year in February, The Indian Express reported.

The group reportedly had as many as 125 members and chargesheets that have been filed against nine, reportedly detail how the group was used to mobilize rioters and get them to coordinate; how armed men stopped passersby and asked them their name, address, ID proof and told them to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, IE reported. It also reported that the police now plan to use these WhatsApp conversations as “extrajudicial confessions”.

The police also said, “This ‘Kattar Hindut Ekta’ group was created on 25.02.2020 at 12.49 hrs. Initially there were 125 members… total 47 had exited the group by 08.03.2020,” IE reported.

The police added, “They (the accused) resolved to kill Muslims, whoever they came across. From February 25 afternoon to February 26 midnight, these murderers/accused persons, bludgeoned nine Muslim persons to death, whoever they come across or (if they) found someone, (and) injured several persons in Bhagirathi Vihar and other areas.”

Alleged messages in the group

The police reportedly shared some messages from the WhatsApp group from Lokesh Solanki – allegedly identified as the “key accused” and others.

Allegedly, the first message on the intervening night on February 26 and 27 at 11.39 pm was: “Bhai, I am Lokesh Solanki from Ganga Vihar. If there is any problem or a shortage of people, let me know. I will come with the entire Ganga Vihar team. We have everything necessary — bullets, guns, everything.”

At 11:44 Lokesh allegedly posted, “Around 9 pm, near B.Vihar, your brother has killed two Muslims and thrown them into the drain along with my team. Vinay, you know that your brother is always in the front in accomplishing this kind of a job.”

The Wire, which had access to some of the messages from the group, said that the messages not only spoke about murder and violence, but were also posted with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

One of the messages accessed by The Wire read, “Ganga Vihar, Gokul Puri, Jhoripur, In sab jagha gumha Hu. Or 23 mullao k sir faade hai (I have been to Ganga Vihar, Gokul Puri, Jhoripur. And burst open 23 mullahs’ heads.)”

On February 28, a message accessed by The Wire read, “Aaj hmne Bhagirathi Vihar Gali No. 1 me Namaz nhi padne Di Bhaga Diya Mullo ki (Today, we didn’t let Mullahs offer namaz in Bhagirathi Vihar’s Lane no. 1).”

Alleged reference to Kapil Mishra

The group also allegedly made references to BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who on February 23, at a pro-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) rally had threatened to take to the roads with his supporters if the police did not clear the anti-CAA protestors from Jafrabad and Chand Bagh.

The Wire reported that a video of Mishra’s speech was repeatedly posted on the Kattar Hindut Ekta WhatsApp group with the caption: “Kapil Mishra ki iss video ko sunein, samjhein, aur bahut mehnat karke poore Hindustan me bhejein kyun ki ye bahut sahi hai hundred percent desh hith me hai, itna toh kar hi sakte hain mere dost (Listen to Kapil Mishra on this video, understand it and make the effort to send it across India because it is in favour of the nation. Friends, you can do this much at least).”

Alleged reference to RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal

It was reported that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Singh (RSS), the parent organization of the BJP, also surfaced in the group chat a couple of times.

One of the alleged messages accessed by The Wire was, “Brothers, people from RSS have come here to support us in Brijpuri.” Another message read: “Aur 9 mullo ko maar diya gya hai Brijpuri puliya pr (Nine more Muslims have been killed on the Brijpuri bridge).

A report by The Quint had said that 16 members of the RSS had been booked following a complaint by Sahil Parvez in which he had said that his father was murdered by a group of men on February 25. The Quint had confirmed that the 16 accused were either active members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), post-holders (zimmedaar), or had visited the local shakha on and off.

Not only this, according to the media, this groups also makes mention of ‘love jihad’ and ‘Hindu khatre mein hai (the existence of Hindus is in danger), mentions of which will be found all over right-wing groups on social media, signaling that there are many more such people baying for the blood of the minorities on social media’s communal echo chamber.

Plethora of Kattar Hindu Ekta groups on social media

While the police have taken cognizance of the WhatsApp group after chargesheets were filed, it has done nothing to cull such radical Hindutva groups from social media. There are several ‘Kattar Hindu Ekta’ groups and hundreds of ‘Kattar Hindu’ pages on Facebook which regularly post offensive and objectionable content against minorities. However, neither the social platform itself nor the police has done anything to take down these groups.

Below are some of the posts from a group called Hindu Ekta 🚩

 

In another group called कट्टर हिन्दू संगठन 🚩 some posts are as follows –

These are just two examples from the several radical Hindutva groups that are active on social media. All over the world when a group with a certain name is in operation and makes use of social media to pose veiled threats like above, the police works to ensure that the gang is deactivated. Though in India the police have taken cognisance and banned such organisations, it has failed to take action on violent groups that are affiliated to the Hindutva ideology.

While these groups may have no connection to the WhatsApp group ‘Kattar Hindut Ekta’ which is in the news now, they still pose a threat to peace in India and echo similar sentiments and in fact lay the groundwork of hate by vilifying minorities and spreading communal hatred so deep that some people actually act out on it.

It is appalling that people are so fearlessly and proudly declaring themselves to be ‘radical’ Hindus and now there is evidence of these individuals or members of a group being a part of organized violence. It is unfortunate to see that social media platforms like Facebook have not taken any action against such groups and nor has the Cyber police taken cognizance of such messages.

In 2019, Equality Labs conducted a research, ‘Facebook India – Towards the Tipping Point in Violence: Caste and Religious Hate Speech’ which found that 93 percent of all hate speech posts reported to Facebook continued to remain on Facebook. It was also found that 100 percent of all Islamophobic hate speech was later restored. The platform struggles with tackling hate speech when it comes to multiple languages. Times of India reported that Facebook had reported that its hate speech detection algorithms worked in around 40 languages. It is important that Facebook employ more human hands to identify such hate mongering which calls for segregation and social exclusion of the minorities, thus violating hate speech guidelines set by the social media platform. It is also necessary that the platform localizes its hate speech policies and upgrades its algorithms to identify and curb hate speech in the Indian context.

Related:

Outlawed caste-based militia Ranvir Sena issues death threats over social media in Bihar!
Will pulling ad revenue from Facebook impact its policies around hate speech and disinformation?

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