Spiritual Leader Offers Bounty for Indian Politician Criticizing Hinduism

The state minister of sports and youth development in India’s Tamil Nadu is under fire for his remarks regarding Sanatana Dharma (referring to Hinduism), starting a political storm ahead of India's widely-anticipated 2024 general elections.

Speaking at a conference organized by the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers Artists Association, Udhayanidhi Stalin, the Minister of Youth Welfare and Sports Development of Tamil Nadu, said that Sanatana Dharma is against social justice and equality. He also compared it to diseases like dengue and COVID-19 and said it must be destroyed.

Just like how dengue, malaria, or coronavirus need to be eradicated, and not just opposed, we have to eradicate Sanatana,” Udhayanidhi Stalin said during the conference last September 2nd.

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, Sanatana Dharma refers to the “eternal” or absolute set of religious duties and practices incumbent upon all Hindus, regardless of sect, class, or caste. Hindu nationalists and leaders also use the term to refer to Hinduism as a unified world religion and, at times, became synonymous with the “eternal” truth and teachings of Hinduism.

Many politicians, activists, and religious leaders were quick to slam Stalin’s comments, arguing that his comments hurt the feelings of millions of Hindus all over India. A lawyer, Sudhir Kumar Ojha, filed a complaint against Stalin before Muzaffarpur Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in the northeastern state of Bihar. The court accepted Ojha’s complaint, and a hearing is set for September 14th.

I have filed a criminal case against Tamil Nadu Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin and his father, M.K. Stalin, who is the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. I have filed the case under Sections 500, 504, 295,298 and 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code.” Ojha said. “Udhayanidhi Stalin has intentionally issued the statement to eradicate Sanatana. His comment has hurt the sentiment of crores of Hindus. He has issued the statement on the instruction of his father, M.K. Stalin, for political gains.

Stalin is also facing a complaint from two lawyers, Harsh Gupta and Ram Singh Lodhi, in Uttar Pradesh (UP) after the two filed a first information report (FIR) against him and Priyank Kharge, son of opposition leader Mllikarjun Kharge of the Indian National Congress (INC)

The head of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT cell, Amit Malviya, interpreted Stalin’s statements as a “call for [the] genocide” of sanatanis, who he claimed comprise “80% [of the] population of Bharat.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said that Stalin’s comments on Sanatana Dharma should be adequately answered, and he also called on his ministers to counter what he sees as “Sanatan slander.

A religious seer, Paramhans Acharya of Ayodhya, even offered a bounty on Stalin’s head, promising a reward worth ten crores (100 million Indian rupees or 1.76 million US dollars) to anyone who could kill him.

"I will pay Rs 10 crore cash reward to anyone who beheads Stalin and brings his head to me. If no one dares to kill Stalin, I will myself find him and kill him," the Tapaswi Chawni temple chief priest in the city of Ayodhya said.

But despite his criticisms and even a bounty on his head, Udhayanidhi remained unfazed and issued a statement, clarifying his comments on Sanatana Dharma and standing his ground.

I never called for the genocide of people who are following Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana dharma is a principle that divides people in the name of caste and religion. Uprooting sanatana dharma is upholding humanity and human equality,” Udhayanidhi said.

I am prepared to confront any challenges that come my way, whether in a court of law or the people’s court. He added, " stop spreading fake news,” arguing that Sanatana Dharma was “responsible for many evils.

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