Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy is at the centre of a political storm after being caught on camera asking government officials to “mercilessly shootout” men allegedly involved in killing a JD(S) worker in Mandya district on Monday.
After his remarks drew sharp criticism from the Opposition, Kumaraswamy said it was an “emotional outburst” and he had clarified to officials that he wanted the police to “smoke out” the perpetrators and not shoot them. In a video that surfaced on social media, Kumaraswamy, speaking to the Mandya Superintendent of Police, says: “I don’t know how you will handle it. I am disappointed actually… he was a very good man… Mercilessly shootout the people involved in such activities… don’t worry about it… I don’t care about the consequences.”
The Chief Minister was referring to the murder of JD(S) worker Honnalagere Prakash (50) by four motorcycle-borne assailants in Mandya. Prakash, who was travelling in his car, was allegedly stopped on the highway and hacked to death at around 4.30 pm. Passers-by took Prakash to a nearby hospital, where he was declared dead.
Speaking to The Indian Express, H D Dinesh, Kumaraswamy’s press secretary, said: “The Chief Minister has already clarified that this was an emotional outburst and not an order to the police. He was speaking to the Mandya superintendent of police about the case when he got emotional. Honnalegere Prakash was a sincere party worker and he was angered by his killing. He has said today as well that the law will take its course,” said
According to Kumaraswamy, he was told of Prakash’s murder when his helicopter landed in Bijapur. “I was told about his murder when I landed in Bijapur. I was very distressed about his murder. More than a party worker, he was devoted to social causes. I have been told that the men who killed him were in jail for murder and let out on bail…When I spoke to officers, I said shootout… the media should not misunderstand this,” he said. He later also clarified that he had spoken to officers again to clarify his orders. “That was not an order as a chief minister. It was in anger. The perpetrators were out on bail and killed another man… I spoke to officers and changed the order to smoke out instead of shootout,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Karnataka BJP president B S Yeddyurappa slammed Kumaraswamy for his remarks and said: “I never expected the CM to speak like that… what about law and order in the state…it was an irresponsible statement. Later, he said he did not say it as the CM.”
Meanwhile, the Mandya police said that no arrests have been made yet in the case. “JD (S) workers were agitated after the murder on Monday. But after the CM’s visit, they have cooled down,” said Shri Kumara, Maddur police station inspector.
According to the police, the JD(S) leader’s murder was a revenge assault, which is tied to a double murder in the same area in December 2016. Prakash was seen as a supporter of the families of the 2016 victims, Nandish and Muthuraj. “We believe that the family involved in that murder might have a hand in this killing too,” said Kumara.