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Pramod Muthalik

Affiliation: Sri Ram Sena
Categories: Most Dangerous
Location: Karnataka

Pramod Muthalik is a Hindu nationalist leader from the Indian state of Karnataka. He joined RSS at the age of 12 and later became the South India convenor of Bajrang Dal, a Hindu militant group.

He later formed the Karnataka unit of the Shiv Sena and founded Sri Ram Sena, another Hindu militant group. Sri Ram Sena was mentioned in the charge sheet filed by the Maharashtra Police following the 2006 Malegaon blasts. In the conversation transcript, the prime accused, Prasad Shrikant Purohit, is heard praising the Shri Ram Sena and calling Pramod Muthalik its leader. Muthalik was later arrested and put under judicial custody.

Muthalik has spent most of his life targeting Muslims, making inflammatory speeches, inciting hatred between religious groups, and conducting training for Hindus with the intent to carry out violence.

He has over 45 police cases pending against him. Many cases relate to provocative speeches made by Muthalik, starting from the time when he was the chief of the Bajrang Dal faction of Karnataka state.

He briefly joined BJP during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections but later contested as an independent candidate from Bangalore South and Dharwad constituencies in Karnataka but lost both.

In 2009, he gained attention when around 40 activists of the Ram Sena barged into a pub in Karnataka’s Mangalore and attacked young men and women, insisting that these people were violating traditional Indian values.

In the years that followed, Muthalik proclaimed itself to be the moral police of the state by threatening to attack couples on Valentine’s Day and inter-religious couples.

In 2010, an expose by Tehelka magazine and Headlines Today TV caught Muthalik on camera, demanding Rs 60 lakh to stage anti-Muslim riots across Karnataka.

In July 2017, after Sri Vishvesha Teertha Swamiji invited Muslims to break their fast and hold prayers at the Anna Brahma Building in the Sri Krishna Temple complex, Muthalik warned of a bloodbath if events like Iftar parties were held on temple premises.

Muthalik’s Sri Ram Sena was among the first Hindutva groups to give air to the conspiracy theory of love jihad before it was adopted in the election manifesto of the BJP to polarize the voters.

“In love jihad, fanatic boys are encouraged to attract young Hindu girls outside ice cream parlours, schools, colleges and theatres … This is an organised effort to demoralise the Hindu community,” he said in 2009.

In October 2017, Deccan Chronicle reported that he urged Hindus to stop doing business with Muslims and to boycott them economically.

In June 2018, he compared murdered journalist Gauri Lankesh to a dog at an event in Bengaluru.

“Why should Narendra Modi react if a dog dies in Karnataka,” he had asked those who criticized the prime minister’s “silence” over the murder in September 2017. His remarks were met with cheers of “Jai Shri Ram.”

In February 2020, he said he would pay a reward of Rs 3 lakh to anyone who would chop the tongues off three Kashmiri students arrested on sedition charges.

In August 2020, he called on the BJP government to ban the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and asked its members to go to Pakistan.

In early 2022, Muthalik played an important role in mobilizing Hindu rightwing to push for the Hijab ban in Karnataka state. The protests organized by his outfit attacked Muslim girls wearing Hijab to schools and colleges.

On April 24, 2022, Muthalik spoke at an event in Karnataka, where he called the Hindu audience to lift up ammunition like swords and guns against Muslims. He also called for a boycott of Muslim traders and business people in the state.

In May 2022, he started a campaign against the loudspeaker use for azan (call to prayers) in the state.

In August 2022, he warned that his supporters would chop the hands of those who try to remove posters of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar that had been put up across Karnataka. The same month he started a signature campaign to seek permission to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi (Hindu festival) at the Idgah ground owned by Muslims in Karnataka’s Hubballi district.