A senior minister in the Congress government in Karnataka on Monday accused the opposition BJP in the state of giving a communal spin to the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of a 14-year-old school girl in the Shivamogga region of the state last week.
The minister’s comments came even as police investigations indicated that the school girl may not have been abducted and sexually assaulted as made out in the course of protests in Shivamogga over the last two days but may have ingested poison after she was severely reprimanded by her parents for associating with a boy despite warnings against doing so.
The 14-year-old girl studying in class eight of a school in the Thirthahalli taluk in Shivamogga died at a hospital in Manipal in coastal Karnataka. Her parents had alleged in a police complaint following her death on Friday that she had been abducted, sexually assaulted and forced to ingest poison by a group of three youths on Wednesday. They alleged that she had been abandoned on the road after she was abducted and assaulted.
Following the death of the school girl local groups in Shivamogga lead by BJP leaders including an MLA Araga Jnanendra called for a bandh and alleged that a member of a minority community was involved in the alleged abduction and sexual assault leading to the death of the young girl.
A bandh had been observed in Shivamogga on Sunday during the funeral procession of the student and stray incidents of stone throwing were reported even as the police imposed curfew in the city and declared schools and colleges closed on Monday.
A key minister in the Congress government Kimmane Rathnakar who hails from Thirthahalli in Shivamogga on Monday accused the BJP of giving the incident a communal twist for political gain even as the police were conducting investigations and were awaiting a post mortem report.
“A grave injustice has happened to the girl and we are keen that justice is done. Leaders of the BJP have however been trying to give it a communal color stating that a boy from a minority community was involved. They also wanted the funeral procession to pass through certain sensitive areas to increase communal tension,” the minister for primary education told reporters on Monday.
Meanwhile police sources in Shivamogga said that a preliminary post mortem examination had not revealed signs of sexual assault and physical injuries on the body of the 14-year-old girl.
“Local witnesses claim that the girl was casually talking to a boy when one of her relatives spotted her and publicly rebuked her for talking to the boy despite her parents warnings. She was forced to accompany the relative to her home where she was further reprimanded by her parents,” sources familiar with the investigations said citing witness accounts.
According to sources the girl consumed some toxic substance while at home and when her parents realised what had transpired they rushed her to a local government hospital and complained that she had been vomitting frequently. The doctors at the hospital referred the girl to another hospital.
“In a sexual assault case the doctors are legally bound to inform the police immediately. But in this case the examining doctor did not find any bodily marks of assault or injury and therefore he referred the victims parents to another hospital,”a police official said. According to police sources involved with the probe a delay in nearly 48 hours in reporting the case to the police has complicated the investigations to some extent.
The police are yet to get a complete statement from the grieving parents who were the last to communicate with the deceased victim. Sources said that the death of the school girl received a communal spin and an abduction, sexual assault angle after the intervention of youth members of a right wing outfit in Shivamogga. Meanwhile the police have detained 43 persons for violating curfew imposed in Thirthahalli.