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Rs 51 cr for cartoonist's head

This UP minister also promised the assassin gold equivalent to his weight, writes S Raju and Masoodul Hasan.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2006 01:06 IST

A minister in the UP government on Friday announced a reward of Rs 51 crore to anyone who eliminates the Danish cartoonist "who dared to make the caricature of the Prophet".

Minister of state for Haj and Minorities Welfare Haji Yaqoob Quereshi, addressing a huge crowd at the Faiz-E-aam Inter College ground in Meerut, also promised the assassin gold equivalent to his weight. "People of Meerut will contribute for the reward," said the minister.

The crowd then burnt an effigy of the cartoonist and courted arrest demanding that India sever diplomatic ties with Denmark. They were released shortly after, the police said.

The state government said it was not contemplating any action against the minister for the inflammatory speech, arguing that it was "no offence" to make such an announcement against "someone living in a distant country".

Principal secretary (Home) Alok Sinha said in Lucknow that Quereshi was just expressing the sentiments of the people of Meerut.

Sinha said it did not constitute any criminal offence. "The announcement had been made taking into account the feelings of the people... There is no offence to make such an announcement about a person living in a distant foreign country," Sinha told reporters.

"In a democracy such announcements are made in a normal way… It cannot be said to be a law and order issue".

Late in the evening, there were also reports of communal tension in Muzaffarnagar over the cartoon row.

First Published: Feb 18, 2006 01:06 IST