Tension in Shivamogga following murder of 26-year-old, Home Minister appeals for calm

A few two-wheelers were set on fire following the murder of a 23-year-old in Shivamogga on Sunday night February 20, 2022.

A few two-wheelers were set on fire following the murder of a 23-year-old in Shivamogga on Sunday night February 20, 2022. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Shivamogga district administration clamped prohibitory orders in Shivamogga city and Bhadravati city on February 21 and 22 in the wake of incidents of stone-pelting and burning of vehicles following the murder of a Hindutva activist in Shivamogga on Sunday (February 20) night.

The prohibitory orders have been issued as per Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

Harsha, 26, a resident of Seegehatti in Shivamogga, was attacked by a group of unknown persons at Bharati Colony around 10 p.m. He was taken to Mc Gann Hospital where he succumbed to injuries. He is said to be associated with Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), one of the organisations comprising the ‘Sangh parivar’ of which the ruling BJP is a part.

As news of the murder spread, incidents of stone-pelting and vehicles being set on fire were reported in some parts of Shivamogga. Police have been deployed in sensitive areas. Senior police officers are monitoring the situation.

On February 21 morning, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said, “Harsha was a Hindu activist and volunteer of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).” He appealed to the people of Shivamogga to maintain calm and peace, assuring them that the police would arrest the culprits and ensure they are punished.

Later in the day, the body of Harsha was handed over to his family members after a post-mortem at Mc Gann Hospital. Hundreds of youths followed the vehicle carrying his mortal remains, on bikes. They were carrying saffron flags and raisings slogans praising Harsha.

There were instances of stone-pelting along the route taken by the vehicle carrying Harsha’s mortal remains, resulting in damage to a couple of vehicles. Stones were thrown at some shops as well.

Holiday for schools and colleges

Shivamogga Deputy Commissioner Selvamani R. declared a holiday for schools and colleges in the city on February 21.

In Bhadravati, the tahsildar declared a holiday for schools (up to Class 10) in Bhadravati city limits.

However, classes in rural areas would continue. The preparatory examinations of SSLC, scheduled to be held in various centres in both cities, have been postponed.

“The situation is tense. The administration is trying to prevent it from getting worse. A holiday has been declared for schools and colleges,” the DC told The Hindu on February 21.

K S Eshwarappa blames goondas

Rural Development & Panchayat Raj Minister K.S. Eshwarappa has blamed ‘goondas’ of a particular community for the murder. He alleged that recent statements of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president D.K. Shivakumar on the saffron flag issue had ‘instigated’ the perpetrators of the crime.

Speaking to mediapersons in Bengaluru on February 21, the Minister said that Mr. Shivakumar ‘misled’ people by spreading ‘false information’ that the national tricolour was lowered to hoist a saffron flag in a college campus. Later, he claimed to have information on the trucks in which saffron shawls were brought from Surat, Gujarat. 

The Minister said the BJP and the Hindu organisations would stand by the family of the victim.

‘Personal issue could be the reason’

Reacting to the allegations, KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar said the State Government should book a case against Mr. Eshwarappa and arrest him so that normalcy could be restored. Mr. Shivakumar said, “He has to make comments against me to survive in the party.”

Stating that statements on the flag issue had nothing to do with the murder, Mr. Shivakumar said, “We do not want to politicise the issue. We have been protesting against Mr. Eshwarappa and we have demanded that he be sacked from the cabinet. According to information available so far, the murder in Shivamogga may have taken place over some personal issue. Let the police probe the case and arrest those involved in the murder.”

‘He was RSS volunteer’

Speaking to mediapersons in Shivamogga on February 21, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said the police had got clues about the perpetrators. “As of now, there is no information about the involvement of any organisation in the murder. A group of four-five people are said to have been involved. The police are trying to track them down. Harsha was a Hindu activist and volunteer of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS),” he said.

The Home Minister said that there was an attempt to attack him earlier too. He is named in a couple of cases, he added.

“I visited the mortuary and spoke to Harsha’s two sisters and his parents. It is an unfortunate incident. It should not have happened. Following the murder, there were incidents of stone-pelting and bikes being set on fire. I appeal to people not to indulge in violence. We are also outraged by the murder. However, damaging public property is not the solution. We are working towards arresting the culprits and punishing them,” the Home Minister said.

He said the government would take a decision on offering compensation for the family of the victim. He would discuss the issue with Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and announce the compensation.

The Home Minister said Shivamogga city is calm. KSRP platoons and the Rapid Action Force had been deployed in the city. Senior police officers, including those who worked in Shivamogga earlier, had been called to take steps necessary to keep the situation under control, he added.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 11:11:53 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/tension-in-shivamogga-following-murder-of-26-year-old/article65070034.ece