The chief of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) S Ramadoss threatened journalists, on Saturday (June 22) and said that he will "cut down those who ask questions", recalling the party's earlier method of protesting by cutting trees.
In a video that is being widely shared on social media, the PMK chief can be seen speaking on 'Growing Hate Politics' at an event in Chennai, where he was a special invitee. Ramadoss was speaking about his efforts to plant trees and narrated an incident about a journalist from the Telegraph newspaper questioning him about PMK's protests by felling trees.
"I told him that I have answered this question a hundred times. You are asking about it repeatedly with a motive, which is to establish that Ramadoss is a tree-cutter. You want to ensure that even people who don't know about this, get to know it now," said Ramadoss at the event organised by Tamil Padaippaligal Periyakkam.
"So I told him – in future if there is any such protest, we will not cut trees. Instead, we will cut people like you who ask questions," he added.
Ramadoss further called journalists dogs and kammanati pasanga (a pejorative used for the son of a widowed woman).
"Hey dogs, come and see where all I have planted trees. For one year I have been offering Rs. 1 lakh prize. But not one person has come to see. I've raised a forest in our charitable trust," he said.
Chennai Press Club and other forums of journalists criticised Ramadoss's remarks and sought an apology. "The rightful owners of democracy, the people, are watching such speeches," a statement by the press club said.
The Centre of Media Persons for Change also expressed their strong opposition to Ramadoss's comments and called for his immediate arrest, according to The News Minute.
The PMK, now a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally in Tamil Nadu, was known for cutting trees as a mark of protest in the 1980s. The party had cut down more than 100 trees when several of its leaders were jailed a few years ago under the tenure of former later chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
The PMK allied with the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu for the Lok Sabha elections but could win only one seat in Theni. The members of PMK have also previously been accused of political and caste-based violence.