Santosh Thammaiah
Santosh ThammaiahSantosh Thammaiah/Facebook

Santosh Thammaiah, the editor of Aseema, was arrested in Kodagu on Tuesday for allegedly making disparaging remarks on the Prophet Muhammad and Tipu Sultan. He was later granted bail by the Ponnampet Court at Virajpet taluk in Kodagu district, Karnataka.

Thammaiah made the controversial comments last week during a conference right before Karnataka's Tipu Jayanti celebrations, "Tipu Karaala Mukha Anaavarana" meaning exposing Tipu's dark side. The event was organized by a right-wing group Pragnya Kaveri, reports The Wire.

While the Congress-JD(S) government celebrated the birth anniversary of the Mysuru King, many right-wing organisations, especially the BJP opposed it calling Tipu a tyrant and anti-Hindu.   

The complaint against Thammaiah was made by Askar KV, a resident of Siddapura after a report of his speech was published by Kaveri Times, a local daily.

According to The News Minute, Askar's complaint said, "Such speech can lead to unrest and disrupt the peace in Kodagu as Santosh Thammaiah has insulted the Prophet in his speech."

"They did not have police permission to organise the event. Yet they went ahead and held the programme. The complaint was filed on November 6 and we told the complainant that we can arrest Santosh after Tipu Jayanti celebrations, as there was a possibility that some clashes may have erupted," the Gonikoppa police was quoted as saying by TNM.

Askar has reportedly lodged a complaint against Santosh Hosalli, a Rashtriya Swamsevak Sangh member from Mysuru for also making inflammatory remarks against the Muslim community.

The Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka have condemned the arrest.

"Santosh has been arrested for speaking against the celebration of Tipu Jayanti by the state government. He exercised his freedom of speech and spoke against Tipu as per his democratic rights," S Shantharam, Media Convenor of the BJP said.

BJP spokesperson Malavika Avinash said, "Thammaiah is an activist and a journalist who has worked with the RSS as well. He was commenting on Tipu's jihadi mindset that only believes in converting or killing. Some Islamic organisations took offense to it."

However, a Congress leader said that Thammaiah's arrest was regarding his Islamophobic remarks while the BJP was making it seem like he was arrested only for his remarks regarding Tipu.

He told The Print, " The police have video evidence of him making incendiary remarks. He went so far as to say the followers of Prophet Mohammad are terrorists and should be dealt with as such. The BJP wants to politicise the issue and make it seem like it is about something else entirely."