The wave of killings of BJP-RSS activists and other ordinary Hindus, and the inability of our secular state to protect Hindus, has boiled over into open rebellion within Karnataka BJP, a state ruled by the saffron party.
BJYM (BJP youth wing) worker Praveen Nettaru (31) was hacked to death just as he was closing his chicken shop on Tuesday night in Dakshina Kannada district. The incident took place in Bellare village under the Sullia taluk around 9.30 pm, said a police official. A tense situation prevailed in Bellare after the murder and all shops, establishments, and hotels in the area were shut down amid protests that broke out spontaneously over the brutal murder of this popular activist.
On Wednesday, as BJP and Sangh parivar workers were protesting the inability of the state government to protect lives of its Hindu workers, Karnataka Police launched a vicious lathi-charge.
BJP grassroots workers and ordinary Hindus were already smarting from the news that the killers of Bajrang Dal activist Harsha were enjoying themselves in a Bengaluru prison. When Harsha’s elder sister Ashwini went to meet the party leadership to demand suspension of the negligent police officials, she was spoken to harshly by Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra.
While Ashwini was appreciative of the way NIA had handled the case, she was upset with Jnanendra’s behavior, statin, “I went there thinking they are my people…If you (Home Minister) cannot give us 10 minutes, then where can we go? When Harsha died for Hindutva, you were the ones who visited our house and told us that the family could approach you anytime for any problem… Where are all those people now who came to our house and promised us justice for Harsha’s death?”
The police lathi charge proved to be the last straw, and soon reports started coming of mass resignations from BJYM and other wings of the Karnataka BJP.
Mass resignations by BJYM, workers heckle party leaders
Many BJYM members quit in Chikkamagaluru and Bagalkot. An old video of a speech by BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel, in which he dares anybody to “touch” a party worker in the coastal region, went viral on social media as a furious cadre reminded him of Praveen’s fate. Condolences messages and assurance of action against culprits by the BJP on Twitter and Facebook also attracted flak from supporters.
Angry workers surrounded the car of BJP state party president Nalin Kumar Kateel, who is also the MP of the Dakshina Kannada district, and heckled him when he visited Bellare.
At Chikkamagaluru, presidents of nine Yuva Morcha mandals, including district Yuva Morcha president Sandeep Harivinangadi resigned. “How justice was served in past murders (of BJP workers) is in front of our eyes. Strict action has just remained an assurance,” Sandeep and others said in their resignation letter. There were also reports of resignation from Yuva Morcha workers in Bagalkot district. Many of those resigning mentioned how Harsha’s jihadi killers have been allowed to enjoy themselves in jail.
BJP Kota Yuva Morcha president Sushant Shetty resigned saying, “Even though people working for the party and organization are being killed, the state and central government are not taking any action. Despite the empty promise of strict action by the state government and the arrest of the accused, they are getting royal status in jail. We are constantly suffering in this matter”.
Yalaburga Yuva Morcha unit president Prabhu Gowda Patil said, “The murder of an active worker of the party is unfortunate. There has been no justice in the murder cases of Hindu activists in the past. The same situation is likely to occur in this case as well. Therefore, I and all the office bearers of Yuva Morcha have resigned”.
More than 300 BJP workers of Byndur submitted their resignation saying that they will not participate in any organizational work of the party until BJP Yuva Morcha leader Praveen Pujari Nettar’s killers are arrested immediately or face their encounter. 8 Mahashakti Kendra presidents of Byndur BJP mandal, 54 Shakti Kendra presidents, presidents of various morchas, secretaries and a total of more than 300 people submitted their resignation letter to Byndur BJP mandal president Deepak Shetty.
Tumkur district administrator Shakuntala Nataraj resigned and vented her anger, “In the coming days, someone else will give money to my family and say Om Shanti and show compassion, so I am getting rid of responsibility because I don’t want to get into the situation”.
Bagalkote Yuva Morcha district president Anand Ingalagamvi, office bearers and workers of 12 mandals have resigned. Theradal MLA Siddu Savadi’s son Vidyadhar Savadi has also announced his resignation from the post of BJP District Yuva Morcha General Secretary.
Arsikere City BJP president Purushottam said it is well known that Jihadis have been plotting to kill BJP party leaders but government had failed to take strict action. This has led to an increase in murder cases. He said that the state government is acting like an anti-Hindu government, and until the Jihadis are taught a lesson, they will not take part in any organization of the party. General Secretary Chandru, Vice President Diwakar, Secretary Subhash were present.
Apart from this, BJP workers held protests in many districts of the state including Davanagere, Kalaburagi, Hubli, Mysore, Shimoga, Chikkamagaluru.
In a viral tweet, former BJP Karnataka social media cell convenor Balaji Srinivas demanded the resignation of Home Minister Araga Jnanendra, branding him “most inefficient”.
There is also discontent against national BJYM President Tejaswi Surya, as he hasn’t yet publicly condemned Praveen’s murder.
As per journalist Rahul Shivshankar, Praveen had spoken in support of the murdered Udaipur tailor Kanhaiyalal Teli, who was beheaded for opposing death and rape threats to Nupur Sharma. Police is examining if Praveen’s Facebook post heaping scorn on radicals is linked to his murder.
A large crowd gathered to pay respects to Praveen as his mortal body was being taken for last rites. Praveen’s wife Nutana said that there are many innocents like her husband who should be protected. “No other person should meet the fate of my husband,” she said.
Bajrang Dal activist Harsha was murdered in Shivamogga in February. Islamists had taken out a fatwa against him as he had supported common uniforms in classrooms and opposed the hijab controversy manufactured by PFI and its student wing CFI. Between Harsha’s murder and that of Praveen Nettaru, there have been multiple cases of attacks on Hindus and Islamist crimes in Karnataka, such as this, this, this, this, this, this, this.
A rattled CM Bommai held a hurriedly-called press conference at his residence on Wednesday midnight, where he cancelled events organized to mark his government’s one year in office. He also announced that the government has decided to raise a ‘specially-trained commando force’ in the state to eliminate anti-national and terrorist forces.
HM Jnanendra said the perpetrators who murdered Praveen could have come from Kerala and the police were in touch with their counterparts in Kerala regarding the case. Union Minister Pralhad Joshi stated that initial reports are suggesting the role of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and Popular Front of India (PFI) behind the murder.
As per latest updates, Two men have been arrested for Praveen’s murder: Zakir (29) from Savanoor and Mohammed Shafiq (27) from Bellare. The duo was arrested from Kasargod, Kerala. It is gathered that Shafiq and Zakir are the conspirators, while the assailants are yet to be arrested. 21 persons have been detained in connection to the murder case.
Country-wide anger over attacks on Hindus and apathy of secular state
Hindus from other parts of the country also expressed their outrage at the lathi charge on grieving BJP workers and activists.
“Compare the action of the police with any other protests against the Govt, Shaheen Bagh, Farmers Protests or any protests where the minority community is involved?“, said one tweet.
“The problem is no leadership for Hindus. Hindus are orphans in the Indian secular state!! Yes, lathicharge them so next time when this happens, no one come to even protest. Courts will take care of the rest, by taking a lifetime to deliver the ‘justice’ in case culprits arrested!“, said another.
“As someone who saw the BJP abandon its own workers in Bengal, this is great to see. The only thing worse than the silence of all those whose business it is to talk about human rights (when the victims are not Hindus), is the silence of @BJP4India against this anarchic violence“, was one tweeter’s reaction to the outpouring of grief and anger over Praveen’s murder.
Another user compiled a list of incidents where Hindus had been brutally beaten up by police in other BJP-ruled states – Gujarat, Delhi, Uttarakhand, J&K, Bihar – for protesting attacks on Hindus or denial of their religious rights.
In its attempt to occupy the high moral ground in India’s deadly democracy, has BJP given up the proper use of the power vested in it by the people? In an attempt to co-opt our Hinduphobic elite and expand its footprint, has it sacrificed Hindu interests? Law & order/police reforms that should be high on its agenda are nowhere to be seen, and our secular state apparatus continues to treat ordinary Hindus with contempt while kowtowing to ‘minorities’ and vested interest groups.
The situation is clearly untenable and BJP needs to do an urgent course correction, starting from the very top. An immediate ban on PFI and its sister organizations would be a good start.