Brother calls for peace after murder
Bangalore: An eatery owner who was attacked by a machete-wielding group linked to the Sangh parivar on a Mangalore street died at a hospital on Sunday, prompting his family to appeal for peace in the communally sensitive city.
Seven men had assaulted Ahmed Basheer, 47, on Wednesday evening while he was returning home after closing his fast-food joint. Security camera footage has helped police catch four suspects while a hunt is on for the remaining three.
Basheer, who had spent 25 years working in Saudi Arabia before returning a few years ago, had slipped into a coma with extensive injuries to his stomach, internal organs and neck.
Officers said the four men in custody - P.K. Srijith, Sandesh Kotian, and brothers Kishan and Dhanush Poojary - had admitted their association with parivar outfits Bajrang Dal and Sree Rama Sene.
The attack had come hours after the killing of BJP worker Deepak Rao, 28, in the district town of Katipalla and is being seen as a retaliatory strike.
The police have not found any links between Rao's murder and Basheer.
Rao, who worked for a mobile SIM card agency, was riding his motorbike when four youths arrived in a car and attacked him with sharp weapons. The BJP has blamed Karnataka's Congress government for the murder.
After Basheer was declared dead, the police threw a ring of security around all sensitive areas in Mangalore. Basheer's family urged people from both sides to maintain peace.
"We don't want any retaliation or anything in the name of my brother's death," said Hakim, Basheer's younger brother.
"In the name of God and our Prophet, we request you all to stay calm, maintain law and order and not heed rumours," he appealed through the media.
Chief minister P.C. Siddaramaiah too urged both communities to maintain calm: "I urge everyone to condemn meaningless killings of innocents. I want everyone to abstain from making any insensitive or communal comments."
He castigated political leaders who whip up communal issues to polarise people. "Such people do not deserve to be in public life at all," he said, the comment coinciding with a visit by BJP leader and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
At a BJP rally on Sunday, Adityanath asked Siddaramaiah why he was allowing beef-eating in his state if he considered himself a Hindu. Siddaramaiah had recently said he was "a hundred per cent Hindu" and didn't need sermons on the religion from Adityanath.
"' Sabka sath sabka vikas' (Support for all, development for all) cannot be a mere slogan. It must come from the heart and not the lip," Siddaramaiah said, referring to the BJP's signature phrase.
After Basheer's body was handed over to his family following a post-mortem, thousands joined his funeral, waiting patiently in queue to pay their last respects.
Mangalore police commissioner T.R. Suresh Kumar told reporters that no provocation or violence had been reported.