Union minister Ananth Kumar Hegde, known for his inflammatory statements, landed in a controversy again on Sunday after saying that “the hand that touches a Hindu woman must not exist”. Addressing a function, organised by the Hindu Jagrana Vedike, at Madapura in Somwarpet taluk of Kodaugu district, Hegde also claimed that history had been distorted to claim that the Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, and instead it was a Shiva temple called Tejo Mahalaya. Hegde alleged the poison of caste came into society only 700-800 years ago, and thus entered Indian history. Things that already existed were given new names and “we had even lost the strength to claim them as ours,” he said. “Today’s Taj Mahal, what is it? A big construction that Shah Jahan built for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. How much love he had for his wife and look at how big a building he constructed for her. That was not built by Muslims, definitely not. History says that, even Shah Jahan in his autobiography has said that he bought the palace from Raja Jaisimha, and that it was a temple constructed by Raja Paramardi Deva, Tejo Mahalaya, which became Taj Mahal,” he alleged. He went on to add that if Hindus continued to sleep then even their houses would be renamed as “Manzil”. “If this continues in the coming days, Lord Ram will become Jahanpanah and Sita will become bibi,” he added. Calling for a fundamental shift in thinking, Hegde said the happenings in society had to be viewed in totality. The question was not which community or caste anybody belonged to. “If anyone touches a Hindu girl then that hand should not exist. This is how history is written. Where it is a question of making history there you can see valour, where it is a question of studying history, then cowardice comes forth. Do you want to be makers of history or students of history?” Similar, Hegde said, was the history of the Qutub Minar, which he said, historians claimed was built by the then ruler Qutub-ud-din Aibak. “If you go to that compound, you will see a board by the Archaeological Survey of India, not the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, Vishwa Hindu Parishad or RSS. It is clearly written on that board that it was a complex of temples dedicated to 24 stars, of Jain temples, and this was destroyed by Muslim invaders,” he said. He said the board was not put up after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. “But governments over the past 70 years had said that Qutub Minar was built by Aibak. Lies, lies, lies, lies. They tried to destroy the identity of our community over these many years,” Hegde added. Reacting to the statement, Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao said nothing better could be expected from Hegde. “What kind of language is this? A Union minister is openly calling for vigilantism. No matter which community, if a woman is harassed then the law must be invoked,” he said. Gundu Rao said it was condemnable that the minister did not care to speak about achievements either of his department or of the government. “Nothing is being said about what has been achieved by his ministry. It is very clear that this is the language they will use for the Lok Sabha polls, but the people of the country are seeing through it,” he said.