Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, walked out of a BBC interview on Monday, annoyed at questions on the BJP government’s silence over hate speeches made at the Haridwardharma sansad last month. Mr. Maurya also defended the right of the “dharmacharyas” to express their views from their own platform.
As per a BBC report on the incident, Mr. Maurya asked his security personnel to delete the video of the interview and also pulled at reporter Anant Zanane’s COVID mask.
The reporter’s question on why Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister of the State (Uttar Pradesh) remained silent after the statements inciting violence against Muslims were made from the stage of dharma sansad in Haridwar and wouldn’t the silence of the authorities further encourage the perpetrators, upset Mr. Maurya.
Mr. Maurya said, “BJP does not need a certificate. We believe in developing sabka saath sabka vikas .” He also defended the right of the “dharmacharyas” (religious leaders) to express their views from their own platform.
The Deputy CM then asked the reporter to talk about statements made by other religious leaders. He further said, “Why don’t you talk about how many people had to migrate from Jammu and Kashmir before [Article] 370 was removed? When you raise questions, then the questions should not be of one side only. The dharma sansad is not of the BJP, it belongs to the monks. What the monks say, what they don't say in their meeting, is their subject.”
When the reporter reminded Mr. Maurya, that the accused Yati Narasimhanand is from Ghaziabad, Annapurna is from Aligarh, asking why action is not taken against the kind of atmosphere these people were creating, Mr. Maurya said, “Nobody tries to create an environment, what is the right thing, what is the wrong thing, what is appropriate in their platform, they would say..”
He then turned on the reporter, accusing him of speaking like an “agent” and not as a journalist. In the video posted by the BBC Hindi, he is then seen removing his lapel mic. The BBC in its report said that once the camera was switched off, Mr. Maurya pulled the BBC reporter’s COVID mask and directed his security personnel to forcibly delete the video.
“The cameraman managed to recover the deleted video — the video has been deleted from both the cameras, it was confirmed by the security personnel of KP Maurya, but the video could be recovered from the camera chip,” the BBC report says.
The BBC report also said the news organisation has officially sent a complaint to the National President of the BJP, the State President of the BJP and the Chief Minister of U.P. ,expressing serious objection to this incident, but no response has been received so far.
The Uttarakhand police has registered two FIRs with regard to the hate speech incident , naming five accused. It has also formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) with an Additional SP and a Deputy SP-level officer as members to investigate the speeches made at the Haridwar event on December 17-19.