Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party MLA MP Renukacharya claimed on Tuesday that members of the Muslim community have been storing weapons in mosques, instead of offering prayers, NDTV reported. “Instead of offering prayers, Muslims are storing weapons in mosques and their priests are giving fatwas instead of sermons,” Renukacharya said at a pro-Citizenship Amendment Act rally in his hometown of Honnalli in Davenagere district in Karnataka.

Renukacharya is the political secretary to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa since August 2019.

The MLA also said that as Muslims do not support the Citizenship Amendment Act, as evidenced by their absence during his rally, he would divert funds earmarked for their welfare to Hindus in his Assembly constituency. “If they [minorities] consider our party [BJP] to be enemy despite treating them as equals, I too will ignore them and not entertain them if they continue to oppose our policies and programmes,” he said.

The BJP distanced itself from Renukacharya’s comments. “He has made these statements in his personal capacity and the BJP has nothing to do with anything he said,” said Karnataka BJP spokesperson S Prakash.

However, another party spokesperson, G Madhusudhana, said that the BJP will investigate Renukacharya’s claims about weapons in mosques and take action if they were proved to be true, IANS reported.

The BJP has begun a nationwide campaign to “educate” people about the Citizenship Amendment Act, after widespread and continuing protests against the law over more than a month. While it is meant to be an outreach campaign, BJP leaders like its West Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh have made aggressive remarks about the Muslim community and undocumented migrants.

The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it. At least 26 people have died in the protests – 19 in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.