Leaders from several far-right groups in India have issued calls for the ethnic cleansing of minorities in the country, especially targeting its 200 million-strong Muslim population at a recent three-day gathering, according to several Indian media reports.
A report by The Quint said that the "hate speech conclave" was organised by Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand from December 17 to 19 in Uttarakhand's pilgrimage city of Haridwar, where multiple calls to kill minorities and attack their religious spaces were made.
"Economic boycott won't work. Hindu groups need to update themselves. Swords look good on stage only. This battle will be won by those with better weapons," the report quoted Narsinghanand as saying.
According to an October report in The Print, Narsinghanand has been accused of inciting communal tension against the Muslim community on several occasions.
"Like Myanmar, our police, our politicians, our army and every Hindu must pick up weapons and conduct a safayi abhiyan (clean-up). There is no other option left," Swami Prabodhanand Giri, president of the Hindu Raksha Sena, was quoted as saying by NDTV.
Sadhvi Annapurna, the general secretary of the political party Hindu Mahasabha, also gave a call to arms and incitement to genocide.
“Nothing is possible without weapons. If you want to eliminate their population, then kill them. Be ready to kill and be ready to go to jail. Even if 100 of us are ready to kill 20 lakhs of them (Muslims), then we will be victorious, and go to jail," The Wire quoted her as saying.
According to the report, religious leader Swami Anandswaroop gave an example of how Muslim street vendors should be treated. “The street in which I live, every morning I used to spot a mullah with a big beard and nowadays they keep a saffron beard. This is Haridwar, Maharaj. There is no Muslim buyer here, so throw him out,” he said.
The Wire reported that BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay and BJP Mahila Morcha leader Udita Tyagi also attended the three-day summit "giving the event a level of political encouragement from the ruling party".
However, speaking to the Indian Express, Upadhyay said: "It was a three-day event and I was there for one day, during which I was on the stage for around 30 minutes and talked about the Constitution. What others said before and after me, I am not responsible for it."
Videos of the event have been circulating on social media for the past several days, prompting criticism from several quarters.
Saket Gokhale, the national spokesperson for the All India Trinamool Congress, said on Thursday that he had filed a complaint at a police station against the event.
"Failure to register an FIR against the organisers and speakers in 24 hours, a plaint shall be made to the judicial magistrate," he said.
The All India Professionals' Congress, a department of the Indian National Congress, condemned "in the strongest possible terms the genocidal statements made by Hindutva leaders in a three-day hate speech conclave organised in the holy city of Haridwar".
"Will the Union of India and other institutions remain mute spectators?" it asked.