Home / Politics / Policy /  BJP, Congress lock horns over death of 21-year-old in Karnataka

Bengaluru: The Karnataka unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday complained to the governor alleging that the state government was unable to control attacks on workers from Hindu right wing groups.

The cause of the latest political standoff between the BJP and the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government is the death of a 21-year-old man, Paresh Mesta, in Honnavar (Dakshina Kannada) district.

The district is in coastal Karnataka, a communally sensitive region that has seen several attacks and murders from both right wing Hindu and minority groups. Heading into elections, the BJP has championed the cause of Hindu right wing groups in the region in a bid to corner the Congress government. It claims radical Islamic groups have flourished under the Congress government.

Although Mesta did not have any known associations with right wing organizations, the BJP gave the murder a religious twist by accusing the state government of giving a free hand to groups attacking Hindu right wing groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

On Monday, a mob set fire to the vehicle of Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Western range in Kumta. Sporadic violence and unrest had broken out in nearby coastal towns.

Mesta was found dead under mysterious circumstances on 8 December, two days after he went missing.

The BJP alleged that Mesta was tortured before he was killed. In an unprecedented move, the state police put out a detailed response by the forensic science laboratory in Manipal, which stated that there was no evidence to suggest Mesta was tortured.

Senior police officials said political parties and several individuals had spread misinformation to incite violence.

To be sure, the cause of death is yet to be ascertained as final reports are awaited.

BJP leader and Lok Sabha member of Parliament Shobha Karandlaje on 9 December, had alleged that Mesta was tortured.

“An official press release dated 9/12/2017 was issued by a political party with respect to death of Paresh Mesta through which blatantly false information without any authentication was shared to media and public," the state police said on Monday.

Police said that action will be initiated against those abetting communal acts in Honnavar including an assault on a senior police official on Monday.

Ramalinga Reddy, home minister of Karnataka, said that the BJP was spreading false information and inciting communal violence. He said that strict vigil is being maintained in coastal Karnataka but refused to accept there was a breakdown of law and order.

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