All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Waris Pathan has been charged for alleged hate speech at an anti-CAA rally in Karnataka's Kalaburagi, police said on Sunday.
"We have filed a case against Waris Pathan for reportedly making a hate speech at an anti-CAA rally in the city on February 15 and summoned him to appear before us for interrogation by February 29," Kalaburagi police commissioner MN Nagaraj told news agency IANS on phone.
Kalaburagi is about 580 km to the north of Bengaluru.
A case has been registered against Mumbai-based AIMIM leader under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) based on a complaint by a local lawyer Shwetha Omprakash Rathod that Mr Pathan made provocative statements against the Hindu community.
"Though the organsiers took permission to hold a protest rally and a public meeting on last Saturday, we learnt from the complaint and a video footage of the event, that Waris Pathan said that '15 crore Muslims were more than a match to 100 crore Hindus' to the gathering in Hindi," said Mr Nagaraj.
Waris Pathan, 51, is a former legislator of the Hyderabad-based party from Mumbai's Byculla Assembly and is a practicing lawyer in Maharashtra.
The complaint also quoted Waris Pathan bragging in Hindi and Urdu: "To those saying we have only put our women at the forefront of the protest against the CAA, NRC and NPR, only our lionesses have come out till now and you are already sweating. Imagine what will happen if we all men came together. We are 15 crore, which can outweigh their 100 crore".
On receiving police summons for questioning at Kalaburagi, Mr Pathan told reporters in Mumbai on Saturday that he had no intention to hurt the sentiments of any community and blamed the media for twisting his speech to defame him, his party and the minority community.
"I take back my words if they hurt anyone and apologise for the same," said Mr Pathan, adding in a tweet that he was a proud Indian and respects the plurality of the country but was angry like many others who believe in the Constitution, with the government for imposing the CAA on the people.
My statement on media reports. pic.twitter.com/bK1X6olQym— Waris Pathan (@warispathan) February 20, 2020
Criticising Waris Pathan for his hate speech, AIMIM president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi advised the former to refrain from making such provocative remarks in public.
Disowning his speech and conduct, party's Maharashtra unit president and Aurangabad Lok Sabha member Imtiyaz Jaleel said his party does not endorse such offensive statements.
"We will seek explanation from him on his remarks," said Mr Jaleel, adding the party would give guidelines to its members on making public speeches.