He was speaking at a debate on 'Freedom of expression is in imminent danger', held at the Tata Literature Live event here tonight.
"The emergency during Indira Gandhi regime is the closest we got to a fascist regime," Kohli said.
Kohli said he endorsed Finance Minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley's remarks on manufactured dissent.
Talking to reporters in Patna, Jaitley earlier in the day stepped up attack on those returning awards by calling them "rabid anti-BJP elements" and stuck to his guns that their protest is a "manufactured rebellion".
"Those returning awards are playing politics by other means. Follow their tweets and their stances on various social and political issues. You will find a lot of rabid anti-BJP elements in them," he said.
The killing of Iqlakh is terrible Kohli said, adding it is a murder.
Mohammed Iqlakh was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son Danish was critically injured by a 200-strong mob which barged into their house at Dadri in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh following rumours that the family had consumed beef.
Former BJP ideologue Sudheendra Kulkarni, who faced ink attack by Shiv Sena workers recently, said the government is in a denial mode over public outcry on growing intolerance.
The PM should invite writers, scientists and artistes who have returned their awards to his residence and assure them that their dignity will be protected, Kulkarni said.
PM should also declare that any demand for a Hindu Rashtra is unconstitutional, he added.
Noted writer Shobhaa De said one of the organisers of the event had sought police protection for the event.
"Something horribly wrong is going on, no matter which party is doing it," she said.
"The culture minister who said Dadri lynching was an accident and said other equally obnoxious things has been rewarded with the biggest bungalow in Delhi", De said.
Politicians guilty of hate speeches and hate crimes get away, she added.