In a shocking sting operation conducted by Headlines Today-Tehelka, Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik was caught ..." />
Mangalore, May 14: In a shocking sting operation conducted by Headlines Today-Tehelka, Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik was caught on camera, demanding Rs 60 lakh to stage riots across Karnataka.
The sting operation not only exposed the true face of Sri Ram Sene and Pramod Muthalik, but also it put a question mark on th [Pramod Muthalik] e real intention of some frenzy saffron outfits.
Sri Ram Sene and Pramod Muthalik came to limelight after the outfit’s goons attacked women in a Mangalore pub. Muthalik and his cadres were arrested and many cases have been registered against them in Karnataka.
Besides Pramod Muthalik, Prasad Attava and V.K. Bhavani were shown in the sting operation. They agreed to hold violent demonstrations at 3 art exhibitions in Bangalore/Mangalore/Mysore.
Tehelka reporter Pushp Sharma posed as an Artist and trapped Muthalik and his accomplished in the sting operation. The Sene leaders also suggested to invite Muslim leaders to the exhibition so that the riots make maximum impact.
Pramod Muthalik dismissed the allegations and said that he was ready to be hanged, if convicted in a court of law. He also blamed Tehelka-HT of framing him. He pointed to the fact that there was no deal and no money exchanged.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa reacted to the latest sting operation, saying the state police will take appropriate action on this matter. "Wed don’t support this kind of attitude", said Yeddyurappa. The Home Ministry has asked the HT for athe sting tape so that police can take further action based on the evidence.
Here are excerpts from the conversations.
Reporter: I want popularity as it will help my business. Tell me how much it (the protest) will cost and how many people will be required, I will not file a police complaint as this will be done as per our understanding, Sir, I shall pay whatever advance you want.
Muthalik: This can be organised in Mangalore or in Bangalore.
Not only was the Sene chief ready to do the job, he even agreed to arrange it in the Karnataka capital.
Reporter: Sir, let me know for sure. Or else, I can come after a few days. Let me know the total expense and I shall arrange it.
Muthalik: What I am saying is that our president there
Reporter: In Bangalore?
Muthalik: Yes in Bangalore, He (Vasant Kumar Bhavani) is very powerful. Have you been introduced to him?
Reporter: Last time I knew it was Patil sahib.
Muthalik: He (Bhavani) is very strong.
With Muthalik agreeing to stage the violence, all that remained was the fixing of the price. For this we were told to contact Muthalik’s trusted lieutenants - Prasad Attavar, the Sene’s national vice-president, and Vasant Kumar Bhavani, the head of the Bangalore unit.
Attavar met us four times, and only once as a free man. He was arrested soon after our first meeting, but that was no hindrance. Attavar’s clout was such that we could freely meet him inside jail compounds and discuss the plan.
Reporter 2: We will pay you Rs 15 lakh.
Reporter 2: Rs 15 lakh.
Attavar: No let me calculate that
We met Attavar twice at Mangalore jail and once inside the high-security Bellary jail. He promised us an attack similar to the one staged in the Mangalore pub in 2009.
Attavar: I will tell you how much money I want.
Reporter 2: How many men will you deploy?
Reporter 2: So there will be 50 people indulging in arson?
Attavar: Yes of course. Just like that (Mangalore) pub case.
But the most practical riot-arranger was Bhavani. He not only suggested the location but also the timing of the attack. And most chillingly, he told us who the chief guest at the event should be.
Bhavani: Should we call Mumtaz Ali?
Bhavani: Mumtaz Ali Khan.
Reporter: Who is he?
Bhavani: He is the (Karnataka) waqf board minister.
While Muthalik had no qualms about letting loose his goons, he wanted to be sure his image wasn’t tarnished.
Muthalik: I can’t get directly involved. I have an image in the society - that of being a man of principles and a Hindutva supporter. I don’t want one incident to spoil that.
Reporter: But nobody would come to know
Muthalik: All that is fine, but my inner voice tells me I am doing something wrong.
On one hand Muthalik talked of an inner voice, and on the other he was ready to stage an attack similar to the one on M.F. Husain’s exhibition in 2008.
Reporter: You know like M.F. Husain and others’ exhibitions.
Muthalik: Yes yes yes.
Reporter: I want a similar protest (at my exhibition). In Shivaji Nagar (Bangalore) or in Mangalore. At any place in their (Muslims’) area.
Muthalik: What kind of support do you exactly want?
Muthalik even suggested areas where the riots could easily be arranged.
Muthalik: It can be done in Mangalore, Bangalore.
We even suggested that the vandalism could be triggered in Muslim-dominated areas and got a confident reply.
Muthalik: Yes we can do that.
Wily enough not to arrange the dirty work himself, Muthalik directed us to contact Attavar. He gave us a contact number.
Muthalik: In Mangalore, we have Prasad Attavar.
Reporter: Is he in (jail) or out?
Muthalik: No, he is out.
For arranging the riot in Bangalore, we were asked to contact Bhavani.
Reporter: You mean Vasant ji?
Muthalik: Yes, he has a warrant against him.
Reporter: His mobile is switched off.
Muthalik: He is underground.
Reporter: So will you talk to him?
Muthalik: Oh yes. After talking to him, the three of us will plan how to do it. We will definitely do it.
Reporter: Sir, do you want the payment in cash or cheque?
Muthalik: Let’ see. Let me talk to him.
On the question of money, Muthalik was not ready to commit to a figure.
Reporter 2: Are you okay with Rs 60 lakh?
Muthalik: Who told you this?
Reporter 2: I had talks with Vasant ji.
Muthalik: Yes yes.
Reporter 2: So I thought
Muthalik: I can’t confirm the money. This is their (Muthalik’s aides) job, they will do it.