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Karnataka HM Falls Back on Statement in Assembly After Historian Refutes Claims of Apology, Cong Cries Perjury

File photo of Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai.

File photo of Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai.

While Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said he remains apologetic over the incident in which Ramachandra Guha was manhandled by the Bengaluru Police, the minister clarified he has not proffered a direct apology.

Bengaluru: Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday said while he felt "apologetic", he had not called up and said sorry to historian Ramachandra Guha who was manhandled by Bengaluru Police at an anti-CAA protest in the state capital last December. His statement comes a day after Guha refuted claims that Bommai had apologised to him.

Bommai's comments on Saturday contravene his own statement made on the floor of the Karnataka Assembly earlier where he said he had called up and apologised to Guha for the way the eminent historian was manhandled by the police near Town Hall in Bengaluru on December 19. Guha was at a protest against the amended citizenship law.

"When I saw he (Guha) was pulled, I phoned him and apologised. There may have been a mistake from our side," he had said in the Karnataka Assembly on February 19.

While Bommai said he remains apologetic over the incident, the minister clarified he has not proffered a direct apology.

"No question of lying. I had expressed my respect to Ramachandra Guha, which had appeared in Kannada newspapers also, including Vijaya Karnataka. I expressed my respect because he is a good friend of my father. We share a good relation," said Bommai. "I told him that I feel apologetic and said so in one of my public reactions. I had also said if there is any problem with the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), we will arrange a meeting with our central ministers so things can be solved."

"However, I had said I feel apologetic for that incident. But in the Assembly report (it says), I phoned and told him so, which is incorrect. I had not called him up. He is right to that extent. But I still feel apologetic for that incident," he added.

Guha earlier had contested Bommai's version, saying in a tweet, "The Home Minister of Karnataka has claimed on the floor of the State Assembly that he apologised to me by phone for the manhandling by the Bengaluru police on December 19, 2019. This is false. I received no such call or apology."

"Even if such an apology had been offered, I would have rejected it," Guha added in a subsequent tweet. "The imposition of Section 144 was illegal (as the Karnataka High Court has since held) and I was proud to be one of thousands of peaceful protesters who defied the state’s arbitrary action on that day."

Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Thursday took the opportunity to criticise Bommai, saying the home minister has committed perjury.

Bommai also apologised to former Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, who was stopped at Mangaluru airport on his way to meet the families of victims of a shooting incident in the city.

"When Ramesh Kumar went there, whether it was legal, illegal, there was a notice, Section 144, curfew violation, whatever... in that situation, you were inconvenienced. I express regret," he told Kumar in the Assembly.