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Siddalinga Swami

Siddalinga Swami

Affiliation: Sri Rama Sene
Vocation/ Title: State President of Sri Rama Sena
Location: India, Karnataka

Siddalinga Swami is a Hindu seer associated with Karuneshwara Mutt (Hindu monastery) in Andola, Karnataka. He is the Karnataka state president of the Hindu militant organisation called Sri Rama Sene.

Swami is a hardened hate-monger and is notoriously famous for his staunch Islamophobic stance. His flagrant venomous speeches have led him to prison more than once and have also shelved a laundry list of cases against him.

In October 2017, Swami was nabbed by the Karnataka Police on the charge of assaulting a Muslim man named Nasiruddin Khadarsaab and demolishing a hotel in Andola, Karnataka. He was sent to judicial custody for ten days and later released on conditional bail.

Promoting the Hindu extremist agenda of the ‘economic boycott of Muslims’, Swami demanded that Muslim-owned shops and businesses be shut throughout the state of Karnataka.

In 2020, the Sri Ram Sene leader sparked another controversy when he suggested that student protesters should “meet the same fate” as the slain journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh.

“(They are) only 14-15 years old and are talking poorly about Modi and Shah. I think, soon, they should be made to go where Gauri Lankesh is,” Swami had said, as the crowd applauded.

Lankesh, a senior journalist and editor of the Gauri Lankesh Patrike in Karnataka, was shot dead at her residence in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017. She was known to be a staunch critic of the right wing, and the killing had shocked the country. One of the key arrests in the case was that of Parashuram Waghmore, with links to Sri Ram Sene and its chief Pramod Muthalik.

He openly gives calls for violence and also offers bounties and rewards to murderers. In a public gathering at Kannada, Karnataka  he reportedly offered a sum of 300,000 rupees reward for those who would ‘chop off the tongues’ of the three Kashmiri students who were arrested for allegedly chanting pro-Pakistan slogans. He said, “Whoever chops off those tongues and brings them, the Sri Ram Sene will give them Rs 1 lakh for each tongue – hence, a total of three hundred thousand rupees as a reward. Such anti-nationals do not deserve to be in this state. The Sri Ram Sene is ready to take on those who oppose the country.”

In 2021, Swami was among the delegates of Hindu religious denominations who had met the then Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and vehemently demanded a law banning religious conversions. The Karnataka assembly enacted an anti-conversion law in September 2022 which has been weaponized to implicate Muslims and Christians in false cases of “forced religious conversions”.

Swami urged the Karnataka government to ban Azaan (Muslim call to prayer) and staged campaigns to remove loudspeakers from mosques. Accordingly, the Karnataka government passed orders banning the use of loudspeakers between 10 pm to 6 am. His organization under his leadership stirred up Hindu sentiments against ‘Halal’ meat ( meat obtained through the permissible way of animal slaughter in Islam) and also mobilized Hindu youth to sport saffron scarfs to protest the wearing of hijab by Muslim girls in colleges and schools. Notably, the Karnataka High Court’s ruling in the matter also failed to protect Muslim girls’ right to wear hijab by upholding the state government’s order banning the hijab in classrooms.

In March 2023 a local court in Karnataka held Swami guilty on a charge of hate speech which he had delivered in 2015 at a public function organized by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) at the Government Junior College Grounds in Yadgir, Karnataka.

His social media accounts are filled with visuals of anti-Muslim propaganda campaigns.