Updated: January 21, 2022 7:41:05 am
Days after a 19-year-old Muslim was stabbed to death in Nargund town in north Karnataka’s Gadag district, police on Thursday said they have arrested four people, including a local Bajrang Dal leader, who addressed a gathering in front of a police station hours before the murder, allegedly calling the youth to beat up Muslims wherever they encounter them.
Shamir Subhansad Shahpur, a hotel worker, was chased and stabbed to death by allegedly seven or eight people, including the Bajrang Dal leader, around 7.15 pm on January 17.
Shamir was traveling home after work with his friend Shamshir Pathan, 19, when they were attacked. While Shamshir managed to escape with injuries, Shamir died due to the stabbing.
Those arrested for the murder were identified as Mallikarjun (20), Chennabasappa (19), Sakrappa (19) and local Bajrang Dal leader Sanju Nalavadi (35).
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On the day of the murder, Nalavadi was actively involved in a rally organised in Naragund where calls were made for violence against Muslims. Few hours before the murder, he addressed a gathering in front of Nargund police station and allegedly gave a call to the youth to assault Muslim youth wherever they encounter them.
He also dared the circle inspector of the police station to come out and arrest him and his followers. In a purported video of the speech, he is heard saying, “Let the police book as many cases against us as they want. We have come here to get cases booked.”
A local police officer, who did not want to be named, said the city has witnessed tension between Muslim and Hindu communities over the past one year. On the day of killing, in the morning hours, there was an incident which provoked people of both communities.
According to Shamir’s elder brother Sahil, the teenager had nothing to do with any communal incident.
“With frequent communal incidents, Nargund town was getting toxic but we never knew my brother would be a victim. He never bothered about these issues,” Sahil said. “There have been lot of incidents to provoke both Muslim and Hindu communities but my brother was not part of any.”
“We worked in the same hotel and we used to return home together. On that day, he went to a barber’s shop, which separated us. He would have been alive today otherwise,” he said.
Sahil said there was an incident of eve-teasing a month ago involving some Hindu boys and Muslim girls. In retaliation, relatives of one of the girls attacked the boys. One of the boys lost a finger. Shamir was targeted on the suspicion that he was involved in the attack, his brother said.
Gadag Superintendent of Police Shiva Prakash Devaraj said an investigation is underway and did not want to comment on the case further.
“On the basis of CCTV footage we arrested the accused and an investigation is on to find out if there is any connection between the murder of the youth and the eve-teasing incident,” said a senior police officer, who did not want to be named.
The CCTV footage shows Shamir and Shamshir on a motorcycle being waylaid by a mob and attacked with rods and knives.
“We are four children, including my sister. We three brothers worked in the same hotel. Everyday we used to report at 8 am in the morning and return together at 7 pm. Now, my brother’s death will continue to haunt me as I left him and reached home alone,” Sahil said.
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