A Karnataka seer has been arrested once again for making anti-Muslim remarks Siddalinga Swami of Andola Mutt has a history of facing legal troubles for alleged incidents of hate speech

10, Oct 2023 | CJP Team

A case was registered by the Shahapur police against a seer named Sri Siddalinga Swamiji from the Andola Matt in Jewargi taluka of Kalaburagi for reportedly making inciteful statement. The police have reportedly taken suo moto cognisance of the offense against the seer who also holds the position of state president of Ram Sene, which is known to be a right-wing organisation. 

According to news reports, Swami had made a speech on October 3rd at Hindu Mahaganapathi Visarjan ceremony. According to News Karnataka, he reportedly warned that “Karnataka will become the second Godhra if Hindus are insulted!”

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A case has been filed against him under the sections 295 (A) and 153 of the Indian Penal Code at the Shahpur police station. However, this is not the first time he has been apprehended by the police. According to the website Hindutva Profiles, he has a long history of spouting a communal hate speech and dabbling in communally charged matters. In fact, just in March 2023 a local court in Karnataka found Swami guilty of delivering a hate speech in 2015 at a public event organised by the VHP at the Government Junior College Grounds in Yadgir, Karnataka, after the Karnataka Police had filed a case against him. 

Similarly, according to Hindutva Profiles, in 2017, he was even arrested for assaulting a Muslim man. He was taken in custody by the Karnataka Police and put in judicial custody for a period of ten days prior to being released on bail for the alleged assault and for being involved in the demolition of a hotel in Andola, Karnataka. Swami was also known for promoting the economic boycott of Muslim owned businesses and enterprises in Karnataka and has given calls for the shutdown of Muslim shops and establishments across the state. Furthermore, continuing his tirade in 2020, the Sri Ram Sene leader seems to have stirred the pot of hatred yet again when he suggested that young students protesting should face a similar fate as the murdered journalist Gauri Lankesh. Later, at a public gathering in Karnataka, he reportedly even offered a reward of 3 lakhs to anyone who would “chop off the tongues” of three Kashmiri students arrested for allegedly chanting pro-Pakistan slogans. He declared that the Sri Ram Sene would provide a reward of 1 lakh rupees for each severed tongue, totalling 3 lakhs, and further stated that those who opposed the country did not deserve to reside in the state. 

In 2021, Swami was also part of a delegation that met with the then Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, which vehemently pushed for the inclusion of a law banning religious conversions in the state. Going further, in September 2022, the Karnataka assembly passed the anti-conversion law which has been called out by many dissidents for being used to falsely implicate Muslims and Christians in cases of alleged cases of forced conversions. Swami also campaigned for the banning of the Azaan, the Muslim call to prayer, in Karnataka and played a role in right-wing efforts to remove loudspeakers from mosques. Under his leadership, his organisation stirred up Hindu sentiments against halal meat and even have reported to have mobilised Hindu youth to protest against Muslim girls wearing hijabs in colleges and schools. 

With Swami facing legal action for his recent speech, one can look toward law enforcement agencies for tackling hate speech. In fact, the Karnataka government after the Congress government took charge is set to launch a full-fledged plan to tackle hate speech named the Information Disorder Tackling Unit. According to Hindustan Times, the state’s IT minister, Priyank Kharge, is in charge of setting up a unit will monitor incidents of hate speech on the internet as well as off it. The project has been allotted a budget of 10 crore and is all set to be implemented. 


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