Associate of Gauri Lankesh Held for ‘Treason’ in 25-Yr-Old Case

Narasimha Murthy was arrested from Raichur when he went to attend a seminar on ‘Alternate Media’ last week.

Updated01 Nov 2019, 07:29 AM IST
India
3 min read

Doddipalya Narasimha Murthy, General Secretary of Swaraj India, Karnataka and long-time associate of slain journalist Gauri Lankesh, was arrested on 24 October from Raichur in Karnataka, where he went to attend a seminar on ‘Alternate Media’ last week.

Murthy was the state president of the Swaraj Abhiyaan when it launched as a social movement in 2016, and became the general secretary of the Swaraj India party in 2018. He gained prominence in 1994-95 when he raised his voice against irregularities in the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project (BMIC).

According to a statement by the police, Murthy has been accused of attempted murder, sedition, treason, and under several sections of the Arms Act and the Explosive Substances Act among others, in four cases dating back to 1994 and 2001. He was produced in court and has been sent to custody till 6 November.

“We needed to identify him. He was going by the name Vinod. We have clear evidence against him and have also quizzed his former associates – including those who are currently in jail – and we are sure it is him,” Shreeharibabu, additional SP of Raichur told The Quint.

“He has been absconding for the past 25 years. It is a coincidence that his arrival in Raichur coincided with our investigation being complete. We have been on the case for years.”
Shreeharibabu, Additional SP of Raichur to The Quint

‘This is a Case of Wrongful Arrest’

DM Munnikrishnappa, Murthy’s brother, said he was astonished at the arrest and the charges made as his brother has been an active member of public life for over two decades, with no reason to evade arrest.

“My brother has not played any role in rioting or any other illegal activities as claimed by the police. We are law abiding citizens, and he has been involved in community service for years now. That is what he is known for. We will fight this legally in the courts,” he said.

Activists, lawyers, and civil society members have taken to the streets in Raichur and Bengaluru, demanding the immediate release of the activist and social worker, and condemning his arrest on “flimsy grounds”.

“It is distressing to note that the Raichur Police have registered serious cases against Narasimha Murthy including for treason, and have tried to link him to alleged activities of Naxalites some two decades back. It appears that the detention, subsequent arrest and levelling of grave allegations is motivated and made with oblique purposes, to muffle the voice of political opposition and freedom of journalistic expression in Karnataka.”
Press Statement by Swaraj India on Murthy’s Arrest

He has been accused of criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder, unlawful assembly, assault, rioting, rioting armed with deadly weapons, promotion of disharmony and enmity among communities, extortion, punishment for wrongful restraint, punishment for attempting to cause explosion, among other charges.

Murthy has been charged under various sections of the IPC, the Arms Act, the Indian Explosives Act and the Explosives Substances Act.

‘Patently Trumped Up Charges Made With Oblique Purposes’

According to police, the hunt for Murthy had been on for several years, with several teams being sent from Raichur to different parts of the state to track him down.

However, his associates claimed that he had been living an open, public life, incompatible with being in hiding.

Kumar Samatala, an associate of Murthy from Lankesh Media Trust, told The Quint,

“The cops say that he was absconding all these years. However, he has visited Raichur on multiple occasions, for press meets, social functions and other work related to Gauri Media Trust, why only arrest him now? It is highly suspicious. If they really wanted to catch him, it would be easy to publish his picture through cops and media and apprehend him, but why this arrest now?”

Murthy had been working alongside Gauri Lankesh when she was alive to bring out the Patrike regularly and had also worked as a journalist to bring out ‘The Sunday Indian’, ‘Nyaya Patha’ and others.

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Published: 29 Oct 2019, 08:32 AM IST
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