All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaddudin Owaisi on Saturday said that the dignity of Muslims is less than street dogs in states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Owaisi made the statement while referring to the public flogging of Muslim men in Gujarat earlier this week.

On the night of October 3, in Undhela village of Gujarat’s Kheda district, a group of Muslim men allegedly attacked a garba site near a mosque. The following day, the Muslims allegedly involved in the incident were dragged out in public, tied to a pole and flogged by the police while a crowd cheered them on. Videos of the flogging showed the men being asked to apologise to the public.

During an event in Hyderabad on Saturday evening, the Lok Sabha MP from the city alleged that Muslims living in BJP-ruled states are in an open prison.

“What happened in Gujarat?” Owaisi asked. “Muslims were tied to a pole and beaten by sticks in public on the allegation of stone-pelting at a garba event. The crowd of people is cheering such flogging of Muslims and disrespecting the community. Is this our respect? Are our lives worth this? Speak up India’s prime minister, you come from Gujarat, you were the chief minister of the state.”

Owaisi also said that if this is the meaning of justice, the country should shut down courts and dismiss law enforcement agencies.

According to Kheda Superintendent of Police Rajesh Gadhiya, the sarpanch of the village had organised a garba event on a ground that was close to both a temple and a mosque. When Muslims objected, Gadhiya said, the sarpanch said the function would end in 45 minutes or so. “But they did not agree,” Gadhiya alleged, adding that stones were then hurled at the garba attendees.

Thirteen persons have been arrested for rioting, unlawful assembly and attempt to murder in the case. Meanwhile, the police are investigating the flogging of the Muslim men.

On Saturday, Owaisi also responded to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat’s claims that there is a religion-based population imbalance in India.

During the Vijayadashmi speech near the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on October 5, Bhagwat had called for a “comprehensive population control policy” that applies equally to everyone.

He had claimed that population imbalance leads to changes in geographical boundaries, adding that the differences in fertility rate, religious conversions by force and infiltration are also big reasons behind it.

However, Owaisi said that the Total Fertility Rate or TFR has seen a decline in India. The fertility rate of Muslims, the Hyderabad MP added, has witnessed a sharpest drop.

“The population of Muslims is not increasing, instead it is declining,” Owaisi said. “The spacing between children is also increasing among Muslims. Who is using condoms the most? We are. Mohan Bhagwat won’t speak about this.”