A day after Karnataka’s Shivamogga saw violent protests over the killing of a 26-year-old Bajrang Dal worker named Harsha, the police on Tuesday, 22 February, said that six persons have been arrested in the case so far. BJP MP Tejasvi Surya has demanded terror charges for the accused.
SP Laxmi Prasad said that a total of six persons – Mohammed Kashif, Sayed Nadeem, Afsifullah Khan, Rehan Sharef, Nihan, Abdul Afnan – have been arrested, and 12 were questioned in connection with the murder. The motive has not been ascertained yet.
"Out of the six persons, four were directly involved in the assault, and two were involved in conspiracy and support for the murder," he stated. Four of those arrested have a criminal record, he added, saying that the pasts of the others were being examined.
The Shivamogga district, where tensions are high since Harsha's murder on Sunday night, 20 February, witnessed arson on Tuesday morning amid beefed-up security.
Minister-in-Charge of the district KC Narayana Gowda told ANI, “Two autos and a motorcycle were torched by some persons today morning (Tuesday) in Shivamogga.”
Tejasvi Surya Blames 'Islamic Fundamentalism,' Demands UAPA Charges for Murderers
BJP MP Tejasvi Surya, who visited the kin of the deceased on Tuesday, stated, "Growing Islamic fundamentalism in Karnataka has taken him a victim. This is Kerala model of terror that organisations like PFI, SDPI, CFI exported to Karnataka and other parts of the country."
"I've requested the CM and Shivamogga SP to not only register FIR u/s 302 IPC as murder but also register cases under UAPA and consider these as acts of terror," he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Later in the evening, he presented a four-point proposal on his official Twitter account and said," A robust institutional response will prevent future incidents. Investigative agencies shouldn’t treat these murders as isolated incidents, but as coordinated acts of terror. Must build institutional capacity in state to monitor, preempt & investigate such acts."
Organisations Behind Hijab Row Under the Scanner, Legal Action Against Miscreants: Home Minister
The Karnataka government had ruled out any link to the hijab row on Monday, but state Home Minister Araga Jnanendra stated on Tuesday, "Organisations behind the hijab row are also under the scanner, their role is also being looked at. Legal action will be taken against those who engaged in stone pelting yesterday," NDTV reported.
Stone-pelting and attacks on several business establishments believed to be owned by Muslims were reported in Shivamogga on Monday, while Harsha's funeral procession was taken by Bajrang Dal members.
Speaking on the violence that erupted in the city, Additional DGP Pratap Reddy said:
"As far as yesterday violence is considered, we have found that 14 incidents have happened, so far 3 FIRs have been filed in that regard. People whose things have got damaged yesterday, let them come and accordingly further cases will be filed."
Section 144 Extended by 2 Days
Section 144 was imposed in Shivamogga following the tensions on Monday, and will remain effective till Friday morning, Karnataka Deputy Commissioner said on Tuesday. Schools will also be shut for another 2 days.
Meanwhile, commercial establishments were closed in Shivamogga, in the aftermath of the tension that prevails a day after the city saw violent protests by right-wing Hindu groups.
Congress Blamed for Murder, BJP Blamed for Violence
The state government on Tuesday blamed the local administration for the decision to allow the funeral procession, which was joined by over 5,000 people, resulting in arson and stone-pelting.
Meanwhile, several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have alleged a conspiracy behind Harsha's murder. Further, on Tuesday, BJP MLA MP Renukacharya, alleged that Congress was behind the murder.
He was quoted as saying, "He (Harsha) was killed because of DK Shivakumar, BK Hariprasad, and other Congress leaders. I urge Home minister to hand over the case to National Investigation Agency (NIA). I will give the compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family."
Speaking on the violence that erupted during the funeral procession, Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said:
"There's calm in Shivamogga...KS Eshwarappa didn't lead the procession (for taking body of Bajrang Dal activist Harsha to his home). He was in procession as a local MLA. Action will be taken against whoever damaged property."Karntaka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra.
He added, "Government imposed Section 144 in Shivamogga, he violated it. He led the procession (for taking the body of Bajrang Dal activist Harsha to his home). He himself instigated it. He should be immediately prosecuted."
Defending his actions, Karnataka Minister KS Eshwarappa said, "JP Nadda is our national president. We have to listen to what he says, it is our duty. You know what I had said. As a worker, I admire him (Nadda). But our CM Bommai has already replied (in Assembly) to what I said and what was wrong or not wrong," ANI reported.
The Bajrang Dal member, Harsha, had been stabbed to death by some assailants late on Sunday, at Bharathi Colony in Shivamogga. According to reports, a gang of had men arrived at the spot in a car and stabbed Harsha. Following the attack, he was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was declared dead.
Though Harsha had been a part of the protest demanding a ban on hijabs held on 7 February outside a college in Shivamogga, the reason behind the killing has not yet been ascertained.
Following the post-mortem examination, a funeral procession was carried out by hundreds of Bajrang Dal members while Harsha's body was being taken back to his residence.
"There were two cases against the victim Harsha – a rioting case and a matter of hurting religious sentiments in 2016-17," SP Laxmi Prasad was quoted as saying.
'Bajrang Dal Brothers Will Give Me Justice': Sister of Killed Man
The sister of the deceased, Harsha, told NDTV on Tuesday that her "brothers" in the Bajrang Dal will not "let the issue go so easily" and they will get her justice.
"I believe in the justice system. My brothers will give me justice. My brothers will never let got off this easily," she told NDTV.
(With inputs from ANI and NDTV.)