Janata Dal (Secular) leader Honnalagere Prakash was hacked to death in Mandya district of Karnataka on Monday. Soon after, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who visited the crime scene, was heard on camera telling someone that there would be no problem if the murderers are “killed mercilessly”.

Kumaraswamy later said that he had made the remarks in a fit of anger, News18 reported. “It was a natural human reaction… it was not my order as a CM... it was in the fit of rage in that situation because those people [alleged killers] are those who killed two others earlier..were in jail, came out on bail..within two days killed him.”

Honnalagere Prakash was stopped on the highway in Maddur and hacked by men with machetes, The News Minute reported. He died of his injuries in a hospital. His followers and residents of the area blocked roads soon after, causing traffic jams.

According to the report, police suspect the murder was a revenge attack, after Prakash was suspected to be involved in another local Janata Dal (Secular) leader’s killing. A case was filed at Maddur police station.

Irresponsible statement, says BS Yeddyurappa

The Bharatiya Janata Party was quick to denounce the chief minister’s comments. “I never expected this from the chief minister,” News 18 quoted state BJP President BS Yeddyurappa as saying. “If he speaks like this, what will happen to the law and order situation? An irresponsible and nonsense statement by Kumaraswamy.”

BJP leader and former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said Kumaraswamy has no right to order encounters and pointed out that his statement “is against the law”.

State BJP leader Shobha Karandlaje said this was “a clear case of provoking and instigating the system”.

The state BJP unit also tweeted, criticising Kumaraswamy. “377 farmers died but CM didn’t care,” it claimed. “Humans were found treated as bonded labour in JD(S) stronghold but CM remains silent. When a JD(S) karyakartha [worker] was HD Kumaraswamy orders cops to immediately shoot culprits, shows all that matters to him is his party and nothing else.”