Pramod Muthalik is one of the most controversial Hindu rightwing leaders in the country and known for his inflammatory speeches targeting his political opponents and minority community. The 55-year-old firebrand leader is the founder of the Sri Ram Sene and was earlier associated with the Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena. On Sunday, Muthalik sparked outrage when he compared murdered journalist Gauri Lankesh to a “dog” during a public speech. Outlook recaps Muthalik’s frequent brush with controversy.
- In February 2000 targeted the Muslim community and questioned their loyalty to the nation. He was to make such statements several times in public functions. According to reports he has nearly 40 cases pending against him, mostly over hate speeches.
- In 2009, Muthalik led a group of Sri Ram Sene activists into a pub in Mangalore and assaulted young couple accusing them of going against “Indian culture”. He was acquitted in the case in March this year due to “lack of evidence”.
- In March 2014, Muthalik joined the BJP ahead of the parliamentary elections. But his membership was cancelled within hours after several top BJP leaders, including present Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, objected to his inclusion in the party. Months later, Muthalik had famously dismissed the BJP as the “Bharatiya Jesus Party” for what he said was the party’s “anti-Hindu policies”.
- In June 2018, Muthalik was in the news again when a photograph surfaced showing him with one of the suspects in the Gauri Lankesh murder case. At first Muthalik admitted to knowing the accused but later backtracked, saying that there was “no connection between Sri Ram Sene and Parashuram Waghmare” (the arrested accused).
- On June 17, 2018, the Ram Sene chief sparked anger when he defended Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the Gauri Lankesh murder. “Why should the prime minister react if some dog dies in Karnataka?"