In a gruesome incident in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district, a BJP Yuva Morcha leader Praveen Nettaru was hacked to death in front of his chicken shop at Bellare by three miscreants on Tuesday night. The miscreants attacked him with an axe when he was returning home after closing his shop, and hacked him to death.
There are reports that the killers sneaked back to neighbouring Kerala on their bike, which bore a Kerala number plate. The gruesome murder resulted in widespread outrage on Wednesday, with incidents of stone-pelting and police lathicharge, attack on BJP state chief Nalin Kumar Kateel’s vehicle and mass resignations by BJP workers.
While Karnataka Police is yet to explain the motive behind this gruesome murder, local BJP activists alleged that Praveen Nettaru was hacked to death by Islamic fundamentalists for sharing a post on Facebook on June 29 in which he had condemned the murder of a tailor Kanhaiyalal in Udaipur, Rajasthan.
In his post, Nettaru had supported suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s remarks against Prophet Mohammed. The other motive, police said, could be a retaliation for the killing of a Kerala youth Masood B, a daily wage earner from Kasaragod, who was attacked on July 19 and died two days later.
Additional DGP (law and order) Alok Kumar said, “we are looking into all angles, including those two. We are keeping a watch on all that has surfaced in the public doman and are analysing factors that could have contributed to this ghastly murder.”
There is no doubt, from all available circumstantial evidences, that the killers of Nettary had come from Kerala, and they escaped to the neighbouring state after committing the gruesome killing. Karnataka police has sought cooperation from Kerala Police in nabbing the killers. Till now, 15 persons have been picked up for questioning and six teams are working on this case.
Local BJP workers in Dakshin Kannada are angry against their leaders. The vehicle in which Nalin Kumar Kateel, the state BJP chief, was sitting, was overturned by angry protesters. BJP workers questioned how a popular youth leader like Nettaru was murdered in a gruesome manner despite a BJP government in power in Karnataka. Naleen Kumar Kateel is also the BJP MP from Dakshin Kannada, and he was going to meet Nettaru’s family to offer sympathy. He had to return empty handed after angry protesters blocked his car.
Thousands turned up at the funeral and Nettaru’s body was wrapped in saffron cloth. Most of the people joining the funeral were wearing saffron clothes and carrying saffron flags. They threw flower petals on his bier and shouted ‘Praveen Zindabad’. Bandh calls were given in Bellare, Puttur, Sulya and Kadaba, and schools and colleges remained closed on Wednesday.
A large contingent of security forces was deployed in the district to prevent communal violence. State BJP general secretary C. T. Ravi said, Karnataka government “will teach a lesson to jihadis and the killers will not be allowed to escape.” He alleged that several Hindu leaders have been killed during the last few months.
Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai promised that the killers of Praveen will be arrested soon. “This murder appears to be part of a pre-planned conspiracy”, he added. BJP activists and Hindu outfits allege the hand of SDPI and PFI behind this gruesome murder.
Hindu outfit Sriram Sene leader Pramod Mutalik questioned why PFI is not being banned. Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said, according to initial indications, Nettaru was killed by SDP and PFI. He also alleged that Congress and some opposition parties in the state are encouraging PFI and SDPI’s activities.
The question is: why are BJP workers in south Karnataka unhappy with their own government. There is a long list of such hate crimes. On April 22 this year, Chandru, a 22-year-old youth was killed. Soon after, Vijay Kamble, a 25 year old Dalit youth was killed in Kalburgi because he was going to marry a Muslim girl. A Bajrang Dal worker Harsha was hacked to death on February 20 by a local Muslim gang in Shivamogga for raising Hindu-related issues. The anger of local BJP workers against their leaders should be viewed in this background.
I think, such gruesome crimes pose a big challenge to the BJP government in Karnataka. BJP leader C.T.Ravi’s statement is correct that earlier such incidents used to happen during Congress, but BJP had promised security and safety to all citizens. It must fulfil its promise, otherwise the leaders will have to face the anger of people. Already Islamic fundamentalists are issuing threats to behead people who support Nupur Sharma. Karnataka government must keep its police on high alert.
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