As Karnataka simmers with tension over the murder of Bajrang Dal member Harsha, Opposition leaders have hit out at the BJP-led Karnataka government over the apparently politically-motivated killing.
Congress leader Siddaramaiah, urging the state government to ensure the arrest and punishment of the culprits, said:
"Irrespective of who the murderer is or who is murdered, the culprits should be punished. I strongly condemn the murder of Harsha. May his soul rest in peace. Without any hesitance or lenience and irrespective of the affiliation of the murderer, government should take strict action before things go out of control."
"Murder of Bajrang Dal activist, in home district of Home Minister Araga Jnanendra shows the fragile state of law and order in Karnataka. After failing to maintain order in his own district, he has no moral right to continue as home minister and he should immediately resign," he stated.
Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar also demanded an inquiry into the matter.
"The murder of a young man in Shimoga is reprehensible. The honorable home minister and the police department must find out the facts and punish the guilty. The government should work to maintain the law and order in the state," he said in a tweet in Kannada.
Meanwhile, other political leaders have also mourned Harsha's death and condemned the killing.
"Deeply saddened by the murder of a Hindu activist Harsha in Shimoga. Investigation is on and those responsible for this will be arrested at the earliest. Police officials have been instructed to maintain law and order and I request people to also stay calm," Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said.
A number of BJP leaders, including Kapil Mishra and Goa CM Pramod Sawant, have blamed 'anti-Hindu fundamentalists' and Islamic terrorists' for the killing. This comes at a time when an inquiry is underway into the death, and no perpetrators have been identified so far.
"Look at the hypocrisy of this country's 'pseudo-liberals'; a person named Harsh demanded a uniform civil code, expressing his freedom of expression, & was killed after a fatwa was issued against him," BJP MP Rajyavardhan Rathore was quoted as saying by ANI.
The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) has also condemned the murder, saying, "At a time when the case is under police investigation, local MLA Eshwarappa delivering a statement that can mislead police and will affect the investigation, targetting one community is condemnable."
The Bajrang Dal Activist's Murder
A 26-year-old Bajrang Dal member named Harsha was stabbed to death by unknown assailants late on Sunday, 20 February, at Bharathi Colony in Karnataka's Shimoga, leading to heightened tensions and beefed-up security in the region.
According to reports, a gang of 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 Shimoga, the reason behind the killing has not yet been ascertained.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said that an inquiry into the murder was underway and that three people had been taken into custody so far.
"We've not yet received any final report related to arrests. We've taken some people into custody. Inquiry is going on. Very soon we'll get info related to the murder, that can be said only after investigation," he was quoted as saying by ANI. He said that five people appeared to be involved in the crime.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader KS Eshwarappa has stated that 'Muslim goons' were behind the attack.