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U.P. Minister Offers Reward for Beheading Danish Cartoonist

By STAFF, Meerut/Lucknow, Feb. 18, 2006

Photo: Haji Yaqoob Quereshi

Political parties have criticised Uttar Pradesh Haj and Minority Welfare Minster Haji Yaqoob Quereshi after he announced a reward for the beheading of the Danish cartoonist [Kurt Westergaard] who made caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.

While they are demanding action against Quereshi, government sources told N.D.T.V. that they are asking for legal advice on the issue.

Sharp criticism

Several prominent leaders from the Muslim community have already distanced themselves from the minister's remark.

These included members of the Muslim Personal Law Board and the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind, the largest political organisation of Muslims in the country.

'The minister has no right to take the law in his hands as it will lead to chaos,' said Abdul Hamid Nomani, spokesperson, Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind.

The B.J.P. has already demanded that the minister must be suspended.

'As the U.P. state government's minister has made such a statement, it should be taken as a statement made by the U.P. government and that minister should either resign or be suspended,' said Rajnath Singh, president, B.J.P.

On Friday, Quereshi announced a Rs. 51 crore [$10,000,000] reward and the executioner's weight in gold for anyone who beheaded the controversial Danish cartoonist.

On the backfoot

Now it's the Mulayam Singh government that has some explaining to do.

'It is his personal view and not as a minister or the government,' said Ambika Chaudhry, revenue minister, Uttar Pradesh.

But this isn't the end of the controversy. If the Danish embassy objects, the ministry of external affairs will have to step in as well.

Haji Yaqub himself remains unremorseful and unfazed. He has refused to take back his remarks designed to incite hatred and violence.