Srinagar: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has served a legal notice to National Conference spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu for allegedly "spreading hatred" against the BJP.
"UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has sent a legal notice of defamation to National Conference (NC) state spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu through counsel for Government of India Abhishek Atrey for 'a habit of spreading hatred against the Bharatiya Janata Party' and 'spreading false stories against Mahant Yogi Adityanath by blaming him that he asked Hindus to rape dead Muslim women'," the NC said in a statement in Srinagar today.
The legal notice alleges that Mr Mattu has made such statements to cause "intentional" hatred among the people towards the BJP and the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, thereby directly inciting hatred against the government of that state and hence, they are seditious in nature.
It has been demanded that an apology be published within two weeks in favour of the BJP and Yogi Adityanath failing which, legal action would be initiated.
Reacting to the development, Mr Mattu said he would not be deterred by such "cowardly acts".
"Those who have openly incited violence against Muslims are ironically sending a legal notice to me for defamation. It seems that Adityanath has mistaken notoriety for reputation.
"He has used intimidation and harassment as political weapons in Uttar Pradesh. He has openly threatened Muslims of serious consequences and defamed them. I will respond to the notice through my lawyers. They are examining it and will respond in an appropriate manner," he added.
The NC spokesman described the BJP as an "anti-minority, especially anti-Muslim" party, which believed in "selective morality".
"It encourages hate speeches as it finds it politically expedient (to do so) and has the audacity to hold others to completely different standards," he said.
Asserting that he was proud of his identity "as a Kashmiri and as a Muslim", Mattu said the NC was committed to mounting a "strong, unapologetic" fight against "these forces of tyranny, oppression and bigotry".
"Mahant Yogi Adityanath, his party and his followers should have no doubt about the fact that we are not going to bow down in front of their tyranny," he added.
Regarding the demand that sedition charges be slapped on him, Mattu said speaking the truth and opposing communalism could not amount to sedition.
"If standing up to bullies and hate-mongering is seditious, one should be proud of it. I am not scared of these legal threats, sedition or no sedition. We will respond strongly, unapologetically and legally," he said.