A sting operation by Tehelka magazine claimed to have blown the lid off BJP general secretary Varun Gandhi’s alleged operation that led to his acquittal in the 2009 Pilibhit hate speech case.
Witnesses, police and judicial officers were made to derail the case against him, according to the report aired by Headlines Today on Wednesday evening.
Gandhi, the report alleges on the basis of taped statements of local politicians, had helped Samajwadi Party leader Riyaz Ahmed win a seat in the 2012 assembly election by arranging for the defeat of his BJP rival. Ahmed and police officers helped “fix” all of the 88 witnesses, either by bribery or by coercion, according to the report which cited witnesses.
Following the report’s telecast, Varun Gandhi issued a statement accusing Tehelka of having an anti-BJP bias, adding that the sting was a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from real issues.
Gandhi claims news reports on his speech at the 2009 election rally in Pilibhit were hyped and twisted and that he never made any remarks intended to incite Hindus against the Muslims. He was acquitted of the charges, brought on the basis of the news reports, by a local court earlier this year.
“It is clear certain vested interests aren’t happy with the (court’s) verdict,” Gandhi’s statement said.
He added that the story was timed with his elevation as BJP general secretary in mind.
The investigation claimed that a public prosecutor -- MP Verma —and the court itself were suspiciously negligent in following due process.
Amongst those making statements on camera was Parmeshwari Dayal Gangwar – district vice-president of BJP in Pilibhit and a close political aide of Gandhi.
He is seen giving an account of the vitriolic speeches Gandhi gave. Gangwar also spoke of how Samajwadi Party minister Riyaz Ahmed was asked to fix Muslim witnesses and how the police, in general, and superintendent of police Amit Verma, in particular, coerced Hindu witnesses to change their testimonies, according to the report.
Gandhi had reportedly made the provocative remarks against Muslims during a 2009 election rally in Pilibhit, the constituency he represents in Parliament..
Recordings of the controversial speech showed Gandhi as saying that he would "cut off the hand that is raised against Hindus ... If you want to save the Hindu religion, vote for me. If a Hindu doesn’t vote for me, he would be betraying his religion.”
People watched as these hate speeches — captured by some on their cellphones — were played on loop on TV channels. Thereafter, two cases were registered against Varun under different sections of IPC for inciting hatred and creating communal disharmony.
He was arrested in March 2009 and jailed for 20 days.