Sangeet Som is the BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh's Sardhana constituency
Less than a day after the Shiv Sena issued a barbaric call to "cut off" the hands of Sharjeel Imam, the JNU student charged with sedition, BJP MLA Sangeet Som, named in several cases linked to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, has demanded that people "who talk of breaking India be shot dead publicly".
Sharjeel Imam, said to be one of the organisers behind the anti-CAA protest at Shaheen Bagh - where over 200 women have braved the winter to go on a weeks-long sit-in protest - was arrested Wednesday for allegedly calling for Assam and the rest of the North East to be cut off from India in a remark interpreted by several states as seditious.
"As far as people like Sharjeel Imam, who talk of breaking India, are concerned... such people should be shot dead publicly," Sangeet Som, the BJP MLA from UP's Sardhana constituency, told news agency ANI.
Sharjeel Imam, who was sent to five days judicial custody on Wednesday, allegedly made his "separate North East" comment at a speech in UP's Aligarh Muslim University on January 16.
Many claim the sections of his speech deemed seditious were taken out of context.
Sharjeel Imam, who has been accused of sedition, was presented before a Delhi court on Wednesday
The Shaheen Bagh protesters, who sources say will be specially targeted by the BJP during campaigning for the Delhi Assembly elections, have distanced themselves from Sharjeel Imam, saying "no one individual's videos, statements or articles can represent the movement".
Sangeet Som also took a gendered swipe at peaceful women-led protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, calling them jobless and alleging they were funded by the opposition.
"The women sitting on protests have no work... a probe is needed to find out source of funding for these protests," he claimed, repeating allegations that people were being paid Rs 500 per day to protest at Shaheen Bagh - a claim strenuously denied by the protesters.
Inspired by the Shaheen Bagh movement women-led protests against the CAA have sprouted across the country, including a short-lived one in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow.
Sangeet Som isn't the first BJP leader to take a swipe at the protesting women; last week UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath mockingly asked: "Where are the men?"
Sangeet Som's incendiary statement comes mere hours after a teenage gunman opened fire at anti-citizenship law protesters near Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia and in the same week as Union Minister Anurag Thakur urging a crowd at an election rally to shoot "goli maaro" traitors - a term repeatedly used by the ruling BJP to refer to those opposed to the CAA.
Mr Thakur (and another BJP leader - Lok Sabha MP Parvesh Verma, who claimed Shaheen Bagh protesters "will enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters") have been handed temporary bans from campaigning
Sharjeel Imam's arrest on Wednesday was followed by a strongly-worded editorial by the Shiv Sena in its mouthpiece Saamana, in which the party said: "Sharjeel Imam has beheaded the Muslim community. His hands should be cut off and put on the highway on the chicken's neck corridor (a reference to the stretch of land connecting the North East to the rest of the country)".
The editorial also warned that Sharjeel Imam's speech had become a poll issue in the national capital, which will vote in Assembly elections next month.
The citizenship law that has sparked sustained nationwide protests makes religion the test of citizenship for the first time ever. The government says it will help non-Muslims fleeing religious persecution from Muslim-dominated neighbouring countries, but critics say it discriminates against Muslims and violates secular tenets of the Constitution.