The cow slaughter debate never fails to grab attention and draw participants. Except for in the case of a Congress minister in North Karnataka's Bijapur district. It all happened during a speech given by a local Muslim cleric at the district headquarters, Vijayapura.
In a video that is making the rounds, Muslim cleric Tanveer Peera Hashmi threatened to indulge in violence if anybody opposed cow slaughter during upcoming Bakrid celebrations in Vijayapura.
What's more shocking is that Hashmi directed the comments to Congress leader Shivanand Patil, who shared the dais with him. Patil is currently the Health and Family Welfare minister in the Karnataka government.
In the video, Hashmi is seen looking at the minister and saying, "I'm just showing the mirror to you sir (Congress leader), listen to me, Bakr-Eid is coming in a couple of months. During that period, Shaitan (Devil) uses cows to do evil things. I am telling it now, god forbid if, during cow sacrifice, we don't have to slaughter another[sic]"
The cleric brazenly warned that anyone who opposes the cow sacrificial ritual during Bakrid will be killed.
All this while, Patil did not even try to rebuke the cleric. The Congress remained a mute spectator, drawing the ire of many of social media, especially pro-Hindu activists.
#BIGNEWS: #Vijayapura cleric #TanveerPeeraHashmi in an inflammatory statement said, there will be #CowSlaughter again. The statement was made in the presence of minister #ShivanandPatil. Following #criticism, the cleric clarified by claiming his statement was not #provocative. pic.twitter.com/jiKOfmsG4k— NEWS9 (@NEWS9TWEETS) June 16, 2018
There have been speculations in the media that Hashmi might have threatened BJP ministers too.
Soon after the video went viral on social media platforms and news portals, Hashmi clarified that he was not threatening anybody, local broadcaster News 9 reported.
Prominent Congress leader and Minister for Major Irrigation and Medical Education, DK Shivakumar responding to Times Now has condemned the Hashmi's statements.
This meek response from Congress might not go well with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who have long been accusing the Congress and JD(S) of indulging in minority appeasement politics for vote bank.
It can be noted that BJP, when it was in the power during 2008-2013 had introduced 'Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2010' which made cow slaughter, including that of the male Buffalo, a punishable offense.
Clause 5 of the bill also mentioned that 'usage and possession of beef' were deemed same as the slaughter or 'cause to slaughter' of cattle and termed it as a 'cognisable and non-bailable' offense.
The former BJP government had also introduced a second bill — 'Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation (Amendment) Bill 2012' to broaden the definition including the differentiation of the bull and the bullock.
Both the bills were pending for approval from the President of India and Governor of Karnataka. But before it could see the light of day, the Siddaramaih-led Congress government gained power in the state and withdrew both bills in late 2014.
This had become one of the poll planks of the BJP to target Congress in the 2018 Karnataka election. To an extent, this did work since the ruling government suffered a major setback, securing just 78 seats against the 122 it had secured in 2013.
But the Congress is back at the helm in a coalition government with HD Kumaraswamy of JD(S) as their chief minister.