The closure report by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the death of Paresh Mesta, ruling it not a case of murder, has embarrassed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had made allegations of torture and murder of the youth in 2017, in the run up to the 2018 Assembly polls.
Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah, whose government had come under attack then, has described the CBI closure report a “slap on the face of BJP.”
‘BJP should apologise’
“This report is a slap on the face of the Karnataka BJP. If the BJP has any shame, it should apologise for its slanderous campaign. The BJP took unethical political advantage of the death of an innocent youth. The power BJP is enjoying has stains of the blood of this innocent youth,” he tweeted.
The BJP, then in Opposition, had said that Paresh was a BJP worker, a claim denied by his family members, and alleged that he was brutally tortured and killed by a group of Muslims over a communal row. Azad Annigeri, a Congress leader and then former councillor who ran a hotel near Shettikere where Paresh Mesta went missing and was later found dead, was accused of torturing and killing him.
Udupi-Chikkamagaluru BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje had said Paresh was murdered by “Jehadis in ISIS fashion.” The then BJP general secretary, Karnataka, Arvind Limbavali, had tweeted with graphic details of alleged torture. The death was an important narrative of Hindutva activists against the Siddaramaiah-led Congress regime and one of the planks of the party in 2018 Assembly polls.
Sticking to this position, senior BJP leader K.S. Eshwarappa has now alleged that the then Congress government had “buried several documents and evidence” related to Paresh’s death, before handing it over to CBI and hence, the report was “incorrect.” He said he would appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to reopen the case. Several Hindutva outfits, including Sri Rama Sene, have also threatened protests if the CBI closure report is accepted.
Meanwhile, Kamalakar Mesta, father of Paresh, spoke to media persons and said that he believed his son was killed and that he would not accept the CBI’s conclusion. “Evidence in the case has been destroyed. The CBI has sent a letter to me. I will discuss with my family and decide on our next course of action,” he said.