Bengaluru: Mahesh Vikram Hegde, the co-founder of website Postcard News, was allegedly heckled by a group of women at Mangaluru airport Friday morning and asked to sing Vande Mataram to prove his “Indian-ness”.
Hegde has been arrested twice earlier for allegedly spreading fake news.
Hegde was spotted by Karnataka Congress spokesperson and social worker Kavita Reddy at the airport where he was waiting to board a plane to Bengaluru.
Reddy along with two other student activists then asked Hegde to “prove his nationalism” by singing the national song.
After Amish, Sudhiar, Deepak it's the turn of Arnab of the South & star fake news peddler Mahesh Hegde of Post Card to face humiliation.
Too ashamed to sing Vande Mataram?
Proud of you @KavithaReddy16 @amulyaleona & @najmanazeerRJ but be ready to be airport banned by papa Puri! pic.twitter.com/qn1QeO4jtV
— Akash Banerjee (@TheDeshBhakt) January 31, 2020
The incident comes just days after the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Republic TV Arnab Goswami was heckled by comedian Kunal Kamra on a plane.
‘If he was a patriot, he would have sung Vande Mataram’
Speaking on the incident, Reddy told ThePrint Hegde asks Muslims to sing Vande Mataram to prove they are Indians and, therefore, she also wanted him to prove his “Indian-ness” by singing the national song.
“When we sit on TV debates, he calls us anti-nationals, he demands that we sing Vande Mataram. He asks Muslims to sing it to prove they are Indians. So we wanted to ask him to prove his Indian-ness to us. If he was a true patriot, he would have sung,” she said.
Reddy said the idea behind confronting Hegde was to “teach a lesson” to all such “pseudo-nationalists” that they do not have the right to insult leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, and abuse women using his website.
“We were three women from three different religions, Muslim, Hindu and Christian, standing there and asking him to sing along with us. We said we will sing Saare Jahan Se Accha if he did not know Vande Mataram. But he just kept quiet like Arnab Goswami and left the place soon after,” Reddy said.
They were showing their frustration, says Hegde
Hegde told The Print the three women heckled him for almost half-an-hour.
“I do not believe in proving my nationalism to such people,” he said.
“They were showing their frustration, that’s all. There may be hundreds of such situations where I would be heckled in the future, but that will not stop me from speaking against the tukde tukde gang, those who oppose CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) for no reason or those who insult our PM (Narendra) Modi and (Union Home Minister Amit) Shah,” Hegde said.
Explaining how he was constantly taunted to sing Vande Mataram, Hegde said their harassment did not affect him at all.
“They kept instigating me and trying to get me to react to their comments on issues such as CAA, NRC and remarks on our PM. But I kept calm and maintained my composure as I knew they were there only to provoke me,” Hedge said.
Hegde’s controversial past
Hegde hit the headlines for the first time in March 2018 when he was arrested by the Bengaluru Police for publishing a story that was later found to be fake.
Hegde had falsely claimed in a social media post in March 2018 that Jain monk Mayank Sagar from Karnataka had been injured after being attacked by a Muslim youth near Kanakapura. It was later found that the monk had been injured in a road accident.
Hegde was booked for provocation with the intent to cause riot and criminal conspiracy under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code as well as Section 66 (dishonest act) of the Information Technology Act.
However, this did not deter him.
He was arrested once again in April 2019 based on a complaint filed by then Karnataka Home Minister M.B. Patil for allegedly publishing a “fake letter” on his website under Patil’s name on the Lingayat issue.
Asked about his previous arrests, Hegde said: “They have sent me to jail for wrong reasons. But that will not deter me from speaking the truth.”
Followed by PM Modi on Twitter, Hegde has 160.5K followers on the micro-blogging site.
A hashtag #IStandWithMaheshHegde was trending soon after his arrest in 2019. Senior Karnataka BJP leaders Shobha Karandlaje and C.T. Ravi also condemned his arrest.