A senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in Karnataka’s Shimoga has threatened to “behead” chief minister Siddaramaiah and “play football” with his severed head over the latter’s statement that he will eat beef.
SN Chanabasappa, BJP district secretary and close aide of former CM BS Yeddyurappa, made the statement at a protest meeting organised by the saffron party on Monday. The agitation was called to condemn Siddaramaiah’s remarks last Thursday on the Dadri lynching incident.
In a statement aimed at Hindu right-wing parties, which are campaigning for a complete ban on cow slaughter, the chief minister had said it was his right to eat beef and nobody can stop him.
Repeating his threat on Tuesday, Channabasappa told Hindustan Times, “If Siddaramaiah has guts, let him come to Shimoga and eat beef. If he thinks we will spare him, he’s wrong. Let him kill a cow and show, we will separate his head from his body and play football with it.”
Channabasappa, a former president of the Shimoga city council, said he doesn’t fear for his own life and challenged the state government to arrest him.
“What is wrong with what I am saying? Who is issuing provocative statements, me or the CM? Action should be taken against Siddaramaiah not me,” he said.
However, when asked if he was serious about killing Siddaramaiah, he said, “I did not say I will kill him. It is just a figure of speech. The people of this land who pray to the cow will do the job if he dares to provoke them.”
The BJP leader also said that it was Siddaramaiah’s duty to uphold the Constitution.
“The Constitution clearly says that cows are holy and need to be protected. By saying he will eat beef, he is insulting the Constitution,” he said.
Shimoga Police registered a case of criminal intimidation against Channabasappa based on a complaint by district Congress president, Prasanna Kumar.
The chief minister also said he has asked the police to look into the BJP leader’s comments and that action will be taken if his statement is true.
“It is a provocative statement... The BJP is known for such things that’s why we are opposing them. These people are known for intolerance. The government will take action against those who make provocative statements and spread intolerance. Nobody can threaten me,” Siddaramaiah told reporters.
The lynching of a 55-year-old Muslim man, Mohammad Ikhlaq, by a mob in Bisada village of Uttar Pradesh last month following rumours that he slaughtered a calf has brought the issue back into the limelight and triggered a wave of protests against attacks on freedom of choice.
Around 40 writers and 12 filmmakers have returned their government awards in protest against the “growing intolerance in the country” and the murders of Kannada writer and Sahitya Akademi Award winner MM Kalburgi and anti-superstition activists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.
Over 50 historians and scientists, including Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, KN Pannikar, Mridula Mukherjee, PM Bhargava and others have come out strongly against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, castigating him for not making any reassuring statement following concerns over the “highly vitiated atmosphere” prevailing in the country.