Vishweshwar Bhat Kageri, the BJP MLA from Sirsi in Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district, was detained, along with several other workers, on Tuesday for leading a protest that turned violent, leaving nearly 30 shops and a couple of religious places damaged in incidents of stone-throwing.
Curfew was imposed in Sirsi subsequently.
The incidents come a day after arson and stone-pelting was reported in Honnavar region of the district Monday, when right-wing Hindutva groups, led by the BJP, protested against the death of a Hindu Jagaran Vedike worker named Paresh Mesta in Honnavar, two days after he disappeared on December 6 following clashes over an accident in Sirsi.
Local BJP leaders have alleged that “jihadi elements” killed Mesta, and that religious tattoos on his body were mutilated — either before or after his death. The police deny this, and have released a copy of preliminary report by a forensic doctor who conducted the autopsy on December 8 to clarify there were no signs of torture on the body.
Three of five Muslim youths named by Mesta’s father, Suresh Kamalakar Mesta, 54, as suspects in his son’s death have been arrested.
On Tuesday, a BJP delegation met Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala with a memorandum to issue directions to the state government to hand over investigation into the death of Mesta and other workers of Hindutva outfits in the state to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). BJP leader K S Eshwarappa, who led the BJP delegation, alleged that the situation in Karnataka now is similar to Kerala, where, he said, many BJP and RSS workers have been killed.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has accused the BJP of politicising the youth’s death. “A desperate @BJP4Karnataka stoops so low as to use the unfortunate death of a youth Paresh Mesta in Honnavar for political gains…People are getting hurt by their irresponsible acts,” he tweeted on Tuesday.
State Congress working president Dinesh Gundu Rao accused the BJP of practising politics over a corpse (“cadaver”) in this instance. “We do not discriminate — whether a Muslim, a Hindu, a Christian or a Parsi is killed, it is deplorable. The BJP indulges in ‘politics of cadaver’ by inciting communal tension for political gain,” Rao said.