A Karnataka Minister today blamed on “Muslim goons” the murder on Sunday of a Bajrang Dal activist, which has sparked tension and arson in Shivamogga.
Karnataka’s Rural Development minister KS Eshwarappa also accused Congress’ Karnataka chief DK Shivakumar of instigating the killing with comments he had made at the height of the hijab protests.
Harsha, 26, was stabbed last evening by four or five men he knew, the police say.
“He was a very good worker. He was a young man who was an honest. Last night, Muslim goons murdered him. Recently, DK Shivakumar claimed that the national flag was replaced with saffron flag, and around 50 lakh saffron shawls was ordered from a factory in Surat for the anti-hijab protest. The goondaism has increased after he made these statements. We will not allow this goondaism to continue. We will extend all the help that we can to the man’s family,” Mr Eshwarappa told reporters.
Mr Shivakumar had recently alleged, when there were protests and counterprotests over hijab in class, that the national flag had been pulled down and a saffron flag hoisted in its place at a college in Shivamoga. The ruling BJP had accused him of inciting passions as there was no video evidence of the national flag being taken down.
“Eshwarappa is a bad man. Siddaramaiah has said that there is no connection between his tongue and his mind. The BJP Leadership should sack him,” Mr Shivakumar said.
Security has been stepped up in Shivamogga because of incidents of arson after Harsha’s death around 9 pm last night. Schools and colleges have been closed for two days. Large gatherings have been banned.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said those behind the murder are yet to be identified, adding that the law and order situation is under control in Shivamogga.
“Five people could be involved in the murder of Harsha. The Police have clues. The motive will emerge from the investigation. There is no information about any organisation behind this. As of now, it doesn’t look like there is any connection to the Hijab issue,” Mr Jnanendra said, adding that the situation is under control now.
In the political crossfire, Congress leader Siddaramaiah, the leader of opposition, demanded the resignation of the state Home Minister.
A police officer the NDTV spoke to has denied reports that the killing of Harsha is linked to the hijab row.
“We have found clues and are close to arresting the accused. This has nothing to do with the hijab controversy. Harsha and the gang of youths knew each other. This seems to be the result of an old rivalry,” the officer said.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the police were working on specific clues.