In a six-month-long investigation, Sagar, a staff writer at The Caravan, scrutinised Facebook live broadcasts by members affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Delhi violence of February 2020. In this series based on the investigation, The Caravan reports on the Hindutva mobilisation that preceded the violence, its political and communal nature, and the role played by the RSS, BJP and affiliated organisations such as the Bajrang Dal in fomenting hate against those protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019.
Hours before the communal violence broke out in northeast Delhi on 23 February 2020, members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and of other Sangh Parivar groups, mobilised the local Hindu populace to come out onto the streets in Maujpur. That day, a clash between a Hindu mob that gathered at Maujpur and protesters opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019, who had occupied the road at the Jafrabad metro station, had marked the beginning of over three days of communal violence in the capital. At the time, the union home minister Amit Shah had issued a press release identifying the violence as “spontaneous.” But Facebook live broadcasts by members of the Sangh Parivar—as subsequently confirmed in interviews with them—provide a large repository of digital evidence that demonstrates that the Maujpur mob was political and deliberately mobilised on communal lines.
On the morning of 23 February, Anupam Pandey, a ward-level president in the BJP’s Delhi unit, admonished Hindus for sitting dispassionate at their homes as resistance against the CAA grew in the capital. The previous night, a group of local Muslim women protesters had enforced a chakka jam, or blockade, on a stretch of the Jafrabad–Maujpur road in northeast Delhi, demanding a repeal of the controversial citizenship law. In a Facebook post at 10.46 am, Pandey wrote, “Sit in your homes till they block roads to our homes. Shame on 100 crore people!” He was referring to the nation’s Hindu population. “I appeal to my Hindu brothers to reach Maujpur square in as large number as possible. Jai Shree Ram!”