Karnataka police have registered hate-speech cases against two BJP legislators, one of them a former minister, a day after chief minister Siddaramaiah and his deputy D.K. Shivakumar sought action against the spewing of hate.
Devaraja police station in Mysore registered an FIR on Wednesday against former higher education minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan for his alleged call in February to “finish off” Siddaramaiah.
Belthangady MLA Harish Poonja has been named in an FIR in Dakshin Kannada district on charges of falsely accusing Siddaramaiah of murdering 24 Hindus.
Shivakumar had on Tuesday told the police brass, at a meeting attended by DGP Alok Mohan, that they should have already booked Narayan, MLA from Malleshwaram in Bangalore.
Narayan, addressing a BJP rally in Sathanur, Mandya district, allegedly said: "You all know what Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda (two fictitious characters who allegedly killed Tipu Sultan) did to Tipu Sultan. He (Siddaramaiah) should be finished in the same manner."
The FIR was registered on a complaint from Congress spokesperson M. Lakshman. Narayan has been charged under penal sections 153 (provocation that could lead to a riot) and 506 (threat to cause an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life).
On Thursday, Narayan told reporters: "I had urged the people to defeat the Congress. But I did not say so with the intention of causing any harm to him (Siddaramaiah)."
He accused the Congress government of pursuing revenge politics. "This case has been booked with the wrong intention; I condemn it," he said.
Poonja was booked on Wednesday over a speech he had delivered at a felicitation organised by the BJP in Belthangady on May 22. A video clip purportedly shows a man resembling him accusing Siddaramaiah, in the Tulu language, of murdering 24 Hindus.
The FIR was registered on a complaint lodged by Namita Poojary of the Belthangady rural Mahila Congress unit. Poonja has been charged under penal sections 153, 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 (circulating rumours).
At Tuesday’s meeting, Shivakumar had also told the police that the Congress government would never allow the saffronisation of the department and urged officers to act independently.
Former BJP chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has accused Shivakumar of damaging police morale with such warnings.
Priyank Kharge, one of the eight ministers sworn in along with Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar on May 20, has warned that the government wouldn't hesitate to act against any organisation, even the RSS, that attempted to spread hate.
"If any religious or political outfit tries to disrupt peace, spread communal hatred & bring disrepute to Karnataka, our Government will not hesitate to tackle them legally or ban them. Even if it is RSS or any other organisation,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
On Thursday, he said: "We have decided to take action according to the law against anyone found spreading hate by sowing the seeds of communal hatred and doing anything to spoil peace and harmony.”
The Congress had said in its poll manifesto that, if voted to power, it would ban any outfit that spreads hate, and named the Bajrang Dal and the recently banned Popular Front of India, a Muslim organisation, in that context.