Bajrang Dal activist murdered in Karnataka’s Shivamogga; three arrested

| Updated: 21 February, 2022 3:53 pm IST

SHIVAMOGGA (Karnataka): A 26-year-old Bajrang Dal activist, Harsha, was murdered by unknown assailants at 9 pm on Sunday in Karnataka’s Shivamogga for allegedly campaigning against wearing Hijab in schools and colleges. Harsha was a tailor from the Seegehatti area in Shivamogga district, which is 270 km from the state capital Bengaluru.

On Monday, Karnataka police arrested three people, who are locals, in connection to his murder.

“We have arrested 3 people. As per my information, 5 people are involved in this murder. We don’t want to disclose anything further at this point. Inquiry is going on. After the investigation, the information will be shared,” Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said.

“At present, everything is under control in Shivamogga. 200 more police personnel were sent from Bengaluru. 1200 already stationed. RAF is also present there. We’ve instructed SPs of other districts as well to closely monitor the situation,” he added.

Earlier, he had visited the McGGAN hospital in Shivamogga and spoke to the bereaved family members of Harsha who are demanding justice for their son.

Harsha’s murder has heightened the tension in the district as many vehicles were set on fire after his killing. The police have clamped section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in Shivamogga city to restore normalcy. The schools and colleges in the district have declared closed on Monday.

“My younger brother is lying dead just because he used to chant ‘Jai Ram, Sri Ram’; just because he called himself ‘Hindu Harsha’. Yesterday night, he left home to have dinner. Around 8.30 pm, we got a video and people told us my brother had been murdered. I cannot imagine how people can be so cruel. Don’t they have children? I pray to all youth, both Hindus and Muslims, to be good children to their parents. Forget about the rest,” Harsha’s elder sister told the media.

Deputy Commissioner Selvamani R told the reporters that local police, RAF are deployed to maintain law and order. “Police are investigating the case and trying to find out the criminals. We are also working with them. Already section 144 has been clamped in the entire city. So, we have announced a holiday for the schools and colleges,” Selvamani said.

Karnataka Minister KS Eshwarappa has blamed ‘Musalmaan goondas’ (Muslim goons) for his killing. “I’m very disturbed by the murder of a Bajrang Dal activist. He was killed by ‘Musalmaan goondas’ (Muslim goons). I’m going to Shivamogga now to analyse the situation. We’ll not allow ‘goondaism’,” he said after the incident.

He also accused Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar of ‘provoking the Muslim goons’.

Congress leader Shivakumar rubbished the claim that Harsha was murdered for opposing hijab in schools and colleges. “It [the murder] has nothing to do with the hijab issue. It was the result of personal enmity between two groups. But the police must thoroughly investigate the incident,” he said.

Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah demanded the resignation of Home Minister Jnanendra over the incident. “The murder was committed in the Shivamogga district from where the home minister, Eshwarappa and Yediyurappa hail. Hence, I demand the resignation of the home minister,” he stated.

“I condemn this murder. Congress believes in non-violence. The culprits must be punished immediately,” he added.

The hijab row kicked off in Karnataka after some Muslim girls refused to follow dress code at the Government Pre University College in Udupi and insisted on wearing hijab in classrooms. After they were denied entry in their classrooms, they triggered a protest which spread across several colleges and schools in the state.

This led to counter protests by Hindu students who were against girls wearing hijab in classrooms. Since then, many violent incidents have been reported across the state, but the murder of Harsha has intensified the tensions and outrage.

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