A Bajrang Dal activist who actively participated in a campaign that led to the closure of a slaughter house in the Moodabidri region of Dakshina Kannada was hacked to death on October 9. Police have so far arrested eight Muslim men — four on Tuesday and four last Sunday — calling it a “revenge killing”, the result of “communal rivalry”.
Police said 29-year-old Prashant Poojary, a flower-seller, was hacked to death outside his shop, some 40 km from Mangalore. The attack was carried out by a group of six men who came on motorcycles wearing masks and wielding knives.
Before he died, Prashant revealed the identities of four of his assailants to his father Anand Poojary, police said.
Mangalore police commissioner S Murugan identified the persons arrested Sunday as Mohammed Hanif (36),
Mohammed Ilyas (27), Ibrahim Liyaqat (26), and Abdul Rashid (39), all residents of Dakshina Kannada district.
On Tuesday, four more were arrested — Mohammed Sharif (42), Mustafa Kavoor (28), Mohammed Mustafa (25), and Kabeer (28).
Police claimed Mohammed Hanif and the four arrested Tuesday carried out the attack on the morning of October 9.
Before he died, Prashant named Hanif and one Imtiaz, who is said to be absconding, as the main assailants. Police said a search was on for more individuals involved in the attack. It is suspected that some have crossed over to Kerala.
“Prashant Poojary was actively involved with a pro-Hindu outfit. There were many clashes and he was attacked out of a communal grudge,’’ police commissioner Murugan said.
Police said Hanif and Imtiaz used to work at a slaughter house in Moodabidri that had been forcibly shut down by Bajrang Dal activists, including Poojary, a few days before the murder.
Police suspect the role of a member of a radical Muslim youth outfit in the attack. “We have no proof of their links to any outfit. One of the motives for the murder was Poojary’s interventions to disturb cattle trafficking,” Murugan said.
Hanif and the others directly involved in the Poojary murder are also involved in a case at Handelu on September 9 and another assault case in Permude on October 3,” he said.
In recent years, the Dakshina Kannada region has been witness to several incidents of violence over cow-politics.
Nalin Kumar Kateel, BJP MP from Dakshina Kannada, said the murder was directly linked to the shutting down of a slaughter house in Moodabidri by a group of activists led by Poojary.
“After the illegal slaughterhouse was shut down, one of the accused, Hanif, made a provocative speech at the Moodabidri bus stand saying revenge would be exacted against all involved in the raid on the slaughter house. Prashant was murdered a few days later at the spot where the protest was held,’’ Nalin Kateel said.