- The incident happened outside the Jharkhand state assembly
- CP Singh tells Irfan Ansari his ancestors were "Ram-wale, not Babur-wale"
- You are using Ram's name to intimidate, says Irfan Ansari
A minister in Jharkhand was seen on Thursday heckling a Muslim lawmaker from the Congress, asking him to shout "Jai Shri Ram" just outside the state assembly, in an incident that was caught on video, provoking condemnation.
"Irfan bhai, I urge you to say 'Jai Shri Ram' loudly," CP Singh is seen saying in the video, physically holding Irfan Ansari, a Congress legislator. He then goes on to tell him that "his ancestors were Ram-wale and not Babur-wale."
"You are using Ram's name to intimidate... you people are denigrating Ram's name. The need of the hour is jobs, electricity, water, drainage," Mr Ansari says.
"I am not saying it to scare you. Don't forget that your ancestors chanted 'Jai Shri Ram'... Taimur, Babur, Ghazni were not your ancestors. Your ancestors were Shri Ram followers," Mr Singh says.
CP Singh is the minister for Urban Development, Housing and Transport in the Jharkhand's BJP government. Irfan Ansari is the legislator from Jamtara. State BJP leaders have said the incident was being misinterpreted and was in jest.
The incident is the latest in a series where Muslims have been seen being bullied with the "Jai Shri Ram" slogan.
Last month, a Muslim man died in Jharkhand after being beaten for hours by a mob that was filmed forcing him to chant the religious slogan. The 24-year-old had been accused of trying to steal a motorcycle.
On Tuesday, 49 prominent public figures wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, drawing attention to "a number of tragic events" including mob killings and the alleged weaponisation of the slogan "Jai Shri Ram" into a "war cry".
"Regrettably 'Jai Shri Ram' has become a provocative 'war-cry' today that leads to law and order problems, and many lynchings take place in its name. It is shocking that so much violence should be perpetrated in the name of religion! These are not the Middle Ages! The name of Ram is sacred to many in the majority community of India. As the highest Executive of this country, you must put a stop to the name of Ram being defiled in this manner," the letter said.
PM Modi had condemned in parliament mob attack Jharkhand last month, and said incidents of violence should be treated in the same manner and perpetrators of violence get a lesson that the entire country is one on this issue.