The complaint was lodged more than a year ago at a police station in Bengaluru. The police, instead of registering a case against the person accused of delivering a hate speech, actually had the complainant followed — among other things — and demanded his own devices!
In fact, the complainant had to approach a magistrate court to pray for a case to be registered. Yet, the probe appeared to make little headway, even as the accused — said to be a member of the extreme right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha — continued to make public appearances and interact with the media.
Then, earlier this month, the Congress won 135 of the 224 seats in the Karnataka Assembly elections, reducing the BJP — which had been in power — to just 66 seats.
Just three days later, the police in Bengaluru transferred the case to Mangaluru, from where the alleged hate-speech video was supposed to have been uploaded on social media platforms.
Complainant claims police harassment
The Sanjay Nagar police in Bengaluru, on 17 May, transferred the case to the Urwa Police Station in Mangaluru for further investigation as the city’s Crime Branch, which was investigating it, learnt that the hate speech video had originated from a Sanatan Sanstha office there.
The crime branch sleuths had also written to Twitter, seeking information on the IP address of the system from where the video originated, and learnt that it was in Mangaluru.
Zia Nomani (45), the complainant in the case and the director of the Law and Policy Research Institute, told South First: “We filed a complaint against the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti almost a year ago for accusing Muslim fruit vendors of ‘spit jihad’ and calling for their economic boycott. The Bengaluru police refused to file an FIR, and acquiesced only when a magistrate court directed it to do so.”
He added: “Yet, the Bengaluru police investigated me instead of the accused.”
Whenever he would enquire with the police about the status of his complaint, they would say the accused Chandru Moger’s phone call details were being retrieved.
This, Nomani said, happened even as Moger, as a representative of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, which itself is an affiliate of the Sanatan Sanstha, was making public appearances in Bengaluru.
Nomani also said the cops quizzed his neighbour and his landlord, seeking personal details about him and his family members.
He added that two Crime Branch men in plain clothes used to follow him to not only his office, but wherever he went.
Shadowing the complainant
“When I gave the police the hyperlink of the tweet of the hate speech video, they sent me a notice demanding that I submit whatever device and gadget on which I had seen the video. They were asking for my laptop and mobile phone for investigation, which I did not give as they contained my personal data,” said Nomani.
“The ‘following’ spree of the police was to such an extent that I had to call one of my religious leaders to seek help by informing senior police officials about the cops stalking a complainant. I had to shift to two cities for three months and I was literally on the run with the constant fear of being framed for something. My wedding got postponed twice because of all this,” he recollected.
“It was with great difficulty we managed to approach a magistrate court that directed the Sanjay Nagar police to register an FIR and investigate the case. The police had earlier taken up a Non-Cognizable Report (NCR) based on our complaint,” Nomani told South First.
“Now, after a year, our FIR has been transferred to Mangaluru’s Urwa Police Station, where a fresh FIR has been registered. According to the Bengaluru police, they found during the course of the investigation that the video was recorded in Mangaluru, and thus the FIR was transferred to the police station there,” he said.
“This fresh FIR was registered by the Mangaluru police on 17 May — three days after the declaration of the Karnataka Assembly elections results,” Nomani pointed out.
Nomani takes on the police
According to the FIR, the accused, Chandru Moger, has been booked under IPC Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 503 (criminal intimidation with anonymous communication), and 504 (intentional insult), among others.
Nomani posed three questions to the Bengaluru City Police, demanding answers.
The first: Why did it take one year for the police to find out that this video was made in Mangaluru? Nomani followed that up by insinuating that the previous regime under the BJP had something to do with it.
The second question: Why did the police transfer the FIR instead of raiding the premises themselves?
And finally: Why have the police not questioned the accused yet?
Nomani contended that the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti has been named in the murder chargesheet of Professor MM Kalburgi, and the Sanatana Sanstha has been named in the murder of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh.
He said the organisation promotes hatred and violence against Muslims through its “vicious propaganda”.
When South First contacted the Urwa Police Station, Investigating Officer (IO) and PSI Sudharshan confirmed that the case had been transferred there.
However, he also said: “We are yet to look into the case and find whether the video really originated from here. If it did not, we will transfer it to wherever it originated from in the state.”
Hindu Janajagruti Samiti responds
Mohan Gowda of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti told South First that he was surprised to hear about the transfer of the case.
“Firstly, Chandru Moger is not associated with Sanatan Sanstha,” he said.
“I remember this case from last year, when Moger talked about mangoes. He just appealed to Hindu buyers to buy mangoes from Hindus. Where is the hate speech coming here?” he asked.
“It is his freedom of speech and expression,” he added.
“Back then, he met the police inspector, ACP, and DCP, and provided a clarification. No case was registered by the police. However, the complainant approached the court to get a case registered. If the police summons Moger, we will handle the case legally,” said Gowda.
“The current government has been elected with a majority and it should ensure everyone lives in harmony. If it (the government) engages in the appeasement of a certain community, all of us — all pro-Hindu organisations — will come together and protest against this,” he said.