Bengaluru: The Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka has strongly condemned the Siddaramaiah government’s move to release from police custody over 150 accused in various communal riot cases, mostly Muslims, based on an appeal from a party legislator as “appeasement politics” and termed the government as a “jihadi sarkar.”
The controversy erupted soon after the state home minister G Parameshwara sent a note to the principal secretary (home) to examine the request of the Congress MLA from Mysuru, Tanveer Sait to withdraw the cases against “innocent students” arrested in connection with the riots in Bengaluru and other places between 2020 and 2023.
Parameshwara said the legislator had urged the government to review the “false cases” filed against many innocent youth and students during the protests and riots at DJ Halli, KG Halli in Bengaluru, Shivamogga, Hubballi and other places and withdraw the cases as per law and therefore, he had asked the home secretary to “take necessary action.”
‘Baring true colours’
The state BJP said, the Congress government in Karnataka had “bared its true colours” within two months of coming to power and it would continue to fight against the anti-Hindu policies of the “jihadi” government. ‘It appears that Parameshwara is working with a sign board that ‘we will give a clean chit to the criminals of one community. Is there anything more shameful? This letter shows that this government is dancing to the tunes of PFI terrorists,” the party said in a tweet.
Following BJP’s strong protest, Parameshwara said his note was based on the request by Congress MLA Tanveer Sait and it did not mean that the cases were being withdrawn. “We have only put it up under process and have not done anything else,” he said.
Three persons were killed and over 50 people were injured in the August 2020 police firing in Bengaluru’s DJ Halli and KG Halli areas after Muslim mobs went on a rampage and set fire to a Congress MLA’s house and attacked a police station following an alleged inflammatory social media post by the legislator’s relative. The violence had also spread to Shivamogga, Hubbballi and other places in the state. In a subsequent case, a Hindu activist, Harsha, was also brutally murdered.
Cases with NIA
The then BJP government had handed over the cases to the National Investigative Agency (NIA) which had arrested over a 100 youths who had allegedly taken part in the riots. The cases have been partly heard by the courts, while several accused are still in judicial custody.
BJP general secretary V Ravikumar said the state government was resorting to appeasement politics instead of taking stringent action against those who disturbed peace and communal harmony in the state. While former minister Aswathnarayan said the Siddaramaiah government had revealed its “jihadi agenda”, another former minister KS Eshwarappa said if the accused were not going to be punished “where is the justice for Harsha’s family?”
As the controversy snowballed, Parameshwara, in further conciliatory tone said, “None of the cases can be withdrawn in one go. Whenever an MLA or an organisation writes to the government to withdraw the cases, the request is placed before the cabinet sub-committee headed by the home minister. “The sub-committee will take a call on whether to withdraw the case or not and place it before the cabinet. We have only put the MLA’s request under process and have not done anything else.”
Tanveer Sait, too, claimed that he had requested pardon for innocent youth of whichever community and not for those who had set fire to the MLA’s house or the DG Halli police station. “The government has to decide who the innocent people are. Let the culprits be punished,” he said. But his letter to the home minister had clearly mentioned that “the police had targeted and arrested people of one community.”
Pulakeshinagar Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivas, whose house had been set on fire by the mob for a social media post by one of his relatives, had escaped the mob fury as he was out of town with his family. Srinivas, who was popular among both Hindus and Muslims in the area, had won the 2019 Assembly polls by over 50,000 votes. But, in the last Assembly elections in May, the Congress party denied him a party ticket because of pressure from the local mullahs and clerics.