New Delhi:A Delhi police team has collected voice samples of Dasna temple priest, Yati Narsinghnand Saraswati, more than a year after a first information report (FIR) police was registered against him for delivering an alleged hate speech at the Press Club of India (PCI) in Delhi, officials aware of the probe details have said.

In the last one year, Narsinghanand did not appear before the investigation officer (IO) to give his voice sample on at least three occasions, citing medical reasons.

This development is crucial because the police will now be able to proceed with the investigation, which has been pending for more than a year.

The Delhi Police registered the case against Saraswati on April 3, 2021, under sections of 153A(promoting enmity) and 295A (deliberate and malicious act intending to outrage religious sentiments). Narsinghnand allegedly made derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammad and Islam at the press club on April 1. The case was registered at the Parliament Street police station after portions of the alleged hate speech were widely circulated on social media platforms.

To be sure, police are yet to file a charge sheet or arrest any person in the case.

A police officer, who asked not to be named, said, “Sometime in the last week of May, he (Narsinghnand) came and gave his voice sample. It has now been sent to the forensic laboratory for analysis. The investigation is on.”

The officer said that Narsinghanand’s voice sample will be matched with the hour-long recording of the press conference during which the alleged hate speech was delivered. Apart from Narsinghanand, police have also questioned alleged accused Deepak Hindu, president of the right-wing group, Hindu Force, in connection with the case. He was present on the dais when the speech was delivered. Deepak Hindu’s statement was recorded on April 10, 2022.

Earlier this month, Narsinghnand was named in another FIR — the third since April 3,2021, in which he has been accused of spreading hate in the aftermath of controversy over suspended comments by suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s. In this case, Narsinghanand was named in the FIR along with 30 others. Before this, on April 3 2022, police filed a case against Narsinghanand for delivering hate speech at the Burari Hindu Mahapanchayat.

When contacted, Narsinghanand confirmed he has given his voice sample. “I have been cooperating with the police in their investigation. The cases against me are false. I have only spoken to the truth,” he added.

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