HOURS AFTER an RSS activist succumbed to a stab attack, his funeral procession on Saturday turned violent in Bantwal region of Karnataka’s communally sensitive Dakshina Kannada district, with many participants in the procession throwing stones and engaging with the police. With many from among hundreds of activists of different Hindutva outfits who had come for the funeral throwing stones on private vehicles and shops on BC Road in Bantwal, the police resorted to mild lathicharge to bring the situation under control. IGP (Western range) P Harisekharan said, “Police have nabbed such people (stone-pelters) from the scene and will take legal action.”
Earlier, Bantwal police had detained more than 30 people, including BJP MPs Shobha Karandlaje and Nalin Kumar Katil, on Friday for violating prohibitory orders to protest the attack on Madivala. A resident of Kandur, near Bantwal, Sharath Madivala, who gave physical training instructions in RSS shakhas, was stabbed around 9.30 pm on July 4 while he was downing shutters of the family-owned laundry shop in the town. According to police, the three assailants had come on a motorcycle. A fruit vendor in the market, named Abdul Rauf, took Madivala to a private hospital in Mangaluru, where he succumbed on Friday night.
Post-funeral, Sharath’s father, Thaniyappa, told the media today that he has little faith in the local police tracing his son’s killers. “The police and government have turned a blind eye to these miscreants,” he alleged. “There have been several such incidents in Bantwal but the police failed to take action. How can I expect justice for my son?”
Following today’s violence, senior BJP leaders, including Union minister D V Sadananda Gowda and former Chief Minister and BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa, blamed the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in the state for creating an atmosphere that led to Madivala’s murder. They demanded an NIA probe into the murder. In Bengaluru, Siddaramaiah said those involved will be arrested at the earliest, and stringent action will be taken.
The police suspect the July 4 incident is part of a series of violent communal incidents of late. Several cases of stabbing have been reported in the last two months or so — the victims being from both the majority and minority communities in a region that has seen frequent clashes between Hindu right-wing outfits such as Bajrang Dal, Hindu Jagaran Vedike and the VHP on one hand and right-wing Muslim groups such as SDPI and PFI.