FUNERAL PROCESSION TURNS VIOLENT; AT LEAST THREE PERSONS INJURED
Three persons have been arrested in the Sunday night killing of a 28-year-old Bajrang Dal activist here, as BJP leaders decried the murder and demanded NIA probe into the matter alleging the role of some Islamic outfits.
The funeral procession of the deceased Harsha witnessed violence including stone-pelting and arson, with a photojournalist among others sustaining injuries.
At least three persons, including the photo journalist and a policewoman, were injured when miscreants pelted stones during the funeral procession that took place amid tight security on Monday while several vehicles were damaged and torched.
“Detailed investigation is on… an investigation report will reveal things on reason and details…..three people have been arrested so far… who, where, how I cannot disclose as investigation is on, interrogation has to happen to know the reasons for the murder,” Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said.
He said, prima facie according to his information five people were said to be involved in the murder, but how many are behind them and all other related details will come out from investigation. There were also reports about some shops being ransacked by miscreants, and police vehicles too being set on fire as part of the violence.
According to official sources, there was stone pelting when Harsha’s body was being taken from District McGann Hospital here.
Police tried to bring the situation under control by firing in the air and lathi charge to disperse the crowd, and made way for the funeral procession to move further and the final rites to take place.
Harsha, a resident of Seegehatti, was attacked by a group of unknown persons at Bharati Colony here on Sunday night, following which he was taken to McGann Hospital where he succumbed to injuries.
In response to a question, Gananendra said Harsha was a Hindu karyakarta and there is information that there were a couple of cases against him, and earlier too there was an attack on him. “They are all being looked into.”
On the violence, Jnanendra said, “we will not allow it to spread, 1,200 men are in Shivamogga for bandobast, there is Rapid Action Force, also 200 men are being sent from Bengaluru and 200 are being sent for other districts to relieve existing staff on duty.”
He said, while on the way from the hospital to Harsha’s home a large number of people had gathered and some incidents had happened, but while on the way from his home to the crematorium things were peaceful.
Peace and order in Shivamogga is being monitored by ADGP Murugan and senior officials who had worked as SP in Shivamogga have been deployed there, he added.
A few BJP leaders including Karnataka Minister K S Eshwarappa and Union Minister of state Shobha Karandlaje claimed a conspiracy behind Harsha’s murder with the latter demanding NIA probe into it.
Karandlaje in a letter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai urging for NIA probe, alleged PFI’s involvement in killing of Hindu activists in the past.
Eshwarappa, who is from the district alleged that “Musalman goondas” are behind the killing.
He said, “Recently DK Shivakumar (state Congress President) had made an instigating statement that at a government school premises, the national flag was lowered to hoist Bhagwa (saffron) flag and 50 lakh saffron flags were brought from Surat in lorries and were distributed among students. This had given abetment to Muslim goondas. We will not allow such goondagiri in Shivamogga and will suppress it.”
BJP National General Secretary (Organisation) B L Santosh alleged that Harsha was killed by jihadi fundamentalists for his opposition to Hijab at educational institutions, referring to the raging issue in the state.
“Harsha was killed by jihadi fundamentalists brutally in front of his home in Shivamogga for supporting #YesToUniform_NoToHijab . He was a marked man by anti-Hindu forces . Tributes to Balidani Harsha. We will stand by his family in this hour of grief,” he tweeted.
Hundreds of people and Hindu workers took part in the funeral procession that was joined by Minister Eshwarappa, the local MLA and Shivamogga MP B Y Raghavendra.
The administration had declared holiday for schools and colleges in the city today, while shops and commercial establishments remained shut in parts of the city.
Earlier, speaking to reporters ADGP Murugan said, efforts were on to bring the situation under control and Superintendent of Police (SP) and Deputy Commissioner were personally visiting various places. They were using force wherever required, and the administration is taking all the necessary measures and will not allow peace and order to be disturbed.
Regarding damage to property, separate cases will be booked and who ever are involved, whether it is a Hindu or a Muslim, merciless action will be taken against them.
“I appeal to everyone to maintain peace. Don’t put fire to your own city.”
The SP has created four teams under DSP (Deputy superintendent of police) level officers, and the additional SP himself is supervising the investigation, he added.
Stating that section 144 has been imposed (for two days), Shivamogga Deputy Commissioner Selvamani earlier in the day said, “Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) himself is monitoring the maintenance of law and order, we are doing all that we can and bring the situation under control at the earliest.”
Speaking to reporters, Chief Minister Bommai, appealing for peace, said that the government will get the murder investigated and punish the guilty at the earliest.
Shivakumar said there is information that the murder might have been due to personal issue.
“There is such information, such reports are there in the media also, we don’t know. Guilty must be punished and justice should be given to the family of the deceased,” the State Congress chief said.
Reacting to Eshwarappa’s allegation against him, he said, “Eshwarappa can’t sleep without taking my name…..If I have incited people, let them take action against me. Case should be booked against him (Eshwarappa for his recent comments on the national flag) first, he should have been sacked from the Ministry.”
To a question on demands to ban PFI and SDPI, Home Minister Jnanendra said there are several criteria to ban any organisation, on when and how to do it, a decision will be taken accordingly.
He also dismissed allegations that BJP was taking a soft stand against PFI and SDPI as they divide minority votes and hurt the Congress’ prospects.
Meanwhile, “#JusticeForHarsha” was trending on twitter, with several of its users demanding justice for the Hindutva activist.
Among them were actor Raveena Tandon and BJP leaders Kapil Mishra and the saffron party’s Andhra Pradesh state general secretary Vishnu Vardhan Reddy.