Hubballi: In what is fast becoming a recurring pattern with Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, the JD(S) leader first directed police officials to "shoot the killers" of a Janata Dal (Secular) leader in Maddur, and when faced with a groundswell of criticism from Opposition parties, he quickly backtracked and said that he did not actually mean to say that the perpetrators of the brutal crime should be killed but wanted them to be "smoked out" from their hideout as soon as possible.
Clarifying that his statement was merely an emotional outburst, the CM said in Vijayapura on Tuesday that what he had said on Monday was "a slip of the tongue". Mr Kumaraswamy later visited Maddur to attend his murdered partyman's funeral, and also directed police officials to conduct a thorough investigation to bring the culprits to book, as this was the third murder in the last few months.
On Monday, after the brutal murder of Prakash, who was attacked with machetes by his killers, the CM in a telephonic conversation with a senior official, had made the controversial ‘shoot’ remark.
In the video, Mr. Kumaraswamy is heard saying: "I don't know how you will handle it because it was your responsibility (to keep him safe).
I am actually disappointed because it has brought a bad name to Mandya. He was a good person. There is no problem if you shoot such people mercilessly," he said alluding to the alleged killers. "I am least bothered (about the consequences)," he added.
The audio went viral on Tuesday, triggering outrage among several Opposition leaders including State BJP president B.S. Yeddyurappa who condemned the statement. Demanding an apology from the CM, the BJP tweeted that it is only his party which seemed to matter to the CM. " If he speaks like this, what will happen to the law and order situation? An irresponsible and nonsense statement by Kumaraswamy," Mr Yeddyurappa said.
The Chief Minister said on Tuesday that he had acted in a fit of rage as he knew the victim, 50-year old H Prakash, a former zilla panchayat member.
"It is beyond my imagination that such a person can ever be killed. My words were only an emotional outburst, which I did not mean," he told reporters in Vijayapura Tuesday.
The Chief Minister's Office issued a statement saying the comments were an "emotional reaction" to the incident and not orders by Kumaraswamy. "The killers of the JD(S) leader Prakash, husband of former Zilla Parishad president Lalitha, are suspected to be involved in two murder cases. I had given a statement to kill them mercilessly in the heat of the moment. It was a slip of the tongue and I have now directed police officials to smoke them out. No violence has erupted due to the murder of our party leader, the police are probing the case to nab the killers", Mr Kumaraswamy said, in an attempt to contain the damage. Prakash was hacked to death allegedly by four men in Maddur town of Mandya district Monday evening, police said. The assailants had stopped Prakash's car when he was going home and hacked him to death with machetes. Tension prevailed in Maddur and Mandya as people 'gheraoed' the police station....