BJP activist's murder: Two persons with suspected PFI link arrested in Karnataka
Two persons with suspected links to the Popular Front of India (PFI) were arrested by Karnataka police over the murder of a BJP youth wing leader in Dakshina Kannada district that has sparked widespread outrage in the state.
As the BJP leadership in Karnataka grapples with the backlash from section of the party cadres against its state top brass after the brutal killing of Praveen Nettar, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, if the situation demands, the "Yogi model" government in Uttar Pradesh will be adopted in the southern state too to deal with anti-national and communal elements trying to create unrest.
Police said the arrested accused have been identified as Zakir (29) and Mohammed Shafiq (27), both from Bellare in Sullia taluk where the 32-year-old zilla Bharatiya Yuva Morcha committee member was hacked to death in front of his broiler shop by unidentified motor bike-borne assailants on Tuesday night.
"Both are from Bellare, they have got suspected links with PFI - that we have to verify. We had taken them into custody last evening and after inquiry we have arrested them. We will produce them before court and ask for police custody and do further investigation," Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Alok Kumar said.
"Right now, we are looking into all aspects, we will be looking into involvement of others, motive and other matters," he told reporters.
Dakshina Kannada SP Rishikesh Sonawane said the arrests have been made based on the evidence available and current investigation.
He said Zakir already has a case registered against him in Bellare police station in 2020 for an offence under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code(voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons).
Chief Minister Bommai along with Home Minister Araga Jnanendra, district in-charge Minister Sunil Kumar, BJP state President Nalin Kumar Kateel and party's national General Secretary C T Ravi met Nettar's family members in Mangaluru this evening and offered their condolences.
During the meeting, Nettar's wife Nuthana urged the chief minister that the killers of her husband and those from organisations behind the murders "should be hanged".
"If you encounter them, my husband and I will be satisfied....no one should face this, there are innumerable youths and workers, you might have seen many came out and cried for my husband. They (karyakartas) don't have protection, if they get protection they can go forward," she told the CM.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the family, Bommai called the murder an "organised terrorist act" and assured that the killers and organisations behind them will be brought to justice, and strictest action will be taken against them.
"Central agencies are also aiding the investigation. We have already requested a National Investigation Agency (NIA) unit for Karnataka, especially for Mangaluru region and we will try to get it soon," he said, adding that based on the preliminary investigation, if there is a need for a higher level of inquiry, the government is open minded to hand over the case for NIA probe.
The chief minister said Rs 25 lakh has been given to the family from the CM's relief fund as they have lost the sole breadwinner. The BJP has also given Rs 25 lakh to the family and will stand by them in the future too.
Before meeting Nettar's family, Bommai said it has come across from initial probe that there is some Kerala connection to the case as the place where the killing has taken place is bordering that state.
"Our Director General of Police has spoken to Kerala DG, also our officials are in contact with SP Kasaragod, and inquiry is on with cooperation from Kerala police....police have been given a free hand and they will nab the killers and see to it they get strict punishment," he added.
In the aftermath of the murder in the party stronghold of Dakshina Kannada, Bommai announced late on Wednesday night he is cancelling the first-year anniversary celebrations of his government that included 'Janotsava', a mega rally at Doddaballapur that was scheduled to be attended by BJP national President J P Nadda..
The killing had led to tension and protests at several places in the coastal district on Wednesday with instances of stone-pelting and police lathi-charge.
No untoward incident was reported from Sullia or other places in the district so far on Thursday, police said. However, protests were held by BJP workers in Bengaluru.
In Bengaluru, Chief Minister Bommai responded to a question earlier in the day on demands by a section of BJP and Sangh Parivar supporters for a "Yogi model" of governance in Karnataka following the murder. The party supporters have turned their angst against the state government accusing it of not standing up to protect the lives of Hindu workers.
"For the situation in Uttar Pradesh, Yogi (Adityanath) is the right chief minister. Similarly, there are different methods to deal with the situation in Karnataka and all of them are being used. If the situation demands, Yogi model government will come in Karnataka too," Bommai said.
According to the BJP supporters, the 'Yogi model' refers to strong measures taken by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to control anti-national activities in his state, which include use of bulldozers against such elements and mafia.
Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar alleged that Left-ruled Kerala has become a "safe haven" for radical elements who commit brazen killings in the neighbouring state.
He said evidence has shown that Nettar's murderers used a motorbike with its number registered in Kerala.
"Kerala under Pinarayi Vijayan has become a safe haven for these kind of radical elements linked to PFI and SDPI. It has become so because of political protection they enjoy from some quarters in the Kerala government. This makes it easier for people to commit these kind of brazen killing as they believe they will be protected," the BJP MP from Karnataka told PTI in Delhi.
"The Karnataka government will hunt them down. The Kerala government must cooperate with Karnataka in making sure these people are identified and arrested rather than protected."
The PFI is an Islamic organisation and the Social Democratic Party of India is its political wing. The BJP has often accused the PFI of extremist activities and spreading communal tensions. The PFI, whose members have been arrested in different parts of India on different charges, has denied the allegation.
There are also reports of several workers of BJP's Yuva Morcha and its office-bearers in Karnataka having resigned or threatening to quit in protest against the killing of Nettar, demanding justice for , strict action against elements involved in murder of Hindu 'Karyakartas', and protection to their lives.
Responding to a question on such resignations, Bommai said, "The situation is such that they are in anger, we will pacify them, we are confident, they are our 'karyakartas'".