Two Telangana Congress leaders, Feroz Khan and Rashed Khan, have announced bounties of Rs 50 lakh and Rs 25 lakh respectively on the head of former Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board chairman Waseem Rizvi who converted from Islam to Hinduism on 6 December to become Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi.
They said they had no problem with what religion he chooses to follow as it is his personal choice and India is a secular country. However, they said their “patience was tested” because “he constantly disrespected Islam for eight months” and that is why they issued the death threats which they stand by.
“We don’t care what religion he follows. India is secular, anyone can follow any faith. We respect all religions. But he should not disrespect us. If he does that, we can kill him,” said Telangana Congress leader Rashed Khan.
Congress leader to ‘stand by my statement’
Rashed Khan said, “Eight months ago, I had said that I’ll give an award of Rs 25 lakh to whoever cuts off the head of Waseem Rizvi. This was because he had been disrespecting the Prophet for eight months continuously. If someone does it once by mistake, I can understand. But not this. If someone said this about Hindu gods, our Hindu brothers would also react like this.”
Khan said, “Is he some party’s agent, keeping in mind the Uttar Pradesh election? He is polarising Indian society. How can a Muslim stay silent? I stand by my Rs 25 lakh bounty announcement.”
‘Patience has run out’
When asked how he could issue such a threat in a democratic country, Feroz Khan said, “I trust Indian law completely, but it should’ve stopped him by now. Why hasn’t the police arrested him? We should’ve got justice in time. Now our patience has run out.”
Rashed Khan said, “I have, from the beginning, demanded that the law take care of it. But nothing happened. They all stayed quiet. To defend the Prophet, we can sacrifice our own lives and kill others too.”
‘Congress is secular’
Both leaders also clarified that their threats were issued in personal capacities and not on behalf of the Indian National Congress. “Congress is the world’s biggest secular party,” Feroz Khan said.
“If Waseem Rizvi apologises, I too will retract my statement and say I made a mistake,” he added.
Waseem Rizvi, who?
Former Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board chairman Waseem Rizvi renounced Islam and converted to Hinduism earlier this week. He took a new name, Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi after accepting Hinduism (also referred to as the sanatana dharma, literally meaning “the eternal path”).
Earlier, he was in the news when he filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking the removal of some verses from the Quran, which he alleged taught violence. His appeal was, however, rejected by the Supreme Court.
After this, he received death threats. He was also threatened for releasing a book that allegedly portrayed Prophet Muhammad in a bad light.