People With Beards, Caps Will Be Beaten Up if Seen Near Hindu Sites: Jharkhand BJP MLA

While he did not name Muslims explicitly, MLA Kushwaha Shashi Bhushan Mehta said that "these people" first participate in Hindu religious events and then disrupt them.

New Delhi: A Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Jharkhand has allegedly said that people who have a beard, wear a cap or eat beef will be beaten up if found near Hindu religious places, The Telegraph reported. Kushwaha Shashi Bhushan Mehta’s alleged remarks came to light after a short video of him started making the rounds on Wednesday.

According to the newspaper, Mehta made these remarks in Hindi while speaking at an event on Tuesday, Vijay Dashami. He is the MLA from Panki in Palamau district.

While he did not name Muslims explicitly, the MLA said that “these people” first participate in Hindu religious events and then disrupt them.

Telegraph reported that no FIR had been filed against Mehta for hate speech as of Thursday evening. Palamau superintendent of police Reeshma Ramesan told the newspaper, “We are examining the video and are yet to lodge an FIR as nobody has lodged any complaint so far.”

“We will take action only after examining the video,” Ramesan reportedly said when reminded of the Supreme Court’s direction that police forces should file suo motu cases on hate speech.

Both the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (in power in the state) and Congress condemned Mehta’s statements, but did not remark on why an FIR had not been registered, Telegraph reported.

“BJP leaders have fallen back on hate speech as they have nothing else to show the voters,” state Congress president Rajesh Thakur said.

Mehta was an accused in the May 11, 2012 murder of a teacher at a school run by the BJP leader. The BJP’s decision to give him a ticket in 2019 had led to protests by the teacher’s family. A court acquitted Mehta in December 2019, while the state elections were in progress. He went on to win the Panki seat.