CRACKING DOWN on people who are believed to have provoked violence through inciting social media posts, Honnavar police in coastal Karnataka district of Uttara Kannada have filed 12 cases under IPC Sections 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) in three weeks since multiple cases of violence in the district.
BJP Lok Sabha MP from Udupi Chikamagalur, Shobha Karandlaje, is among those booked.
She was booked for her December 14 tweet, saying, “Jihadis tried to repe [rape] and murder a girl studying in 9th std near honnavar. Why is the govt silent about this incident? Arrest those who molested and injured this girl. Where are you CM @siddaramaiah?”
The tweet referred to an incident in which a teen girl had suffered a cut on her hand, ostensibly on being attacked by unidentified people, in Honnavar town on December 14. The police said their probe found it was a self-inflicted injury — apparently to avoid an embarrassing situation as the girl’s family had learnt about her friendship with a youth.
Police filed a case against the BJP MP after the girl confessed that she had inflicted the cut.
While Karandlaje has dared the Karnataka government to arrest her, and claimed that the girl was forced to retract her statement, the police accused the MP of inciting communal enmity in a region already on the edge due to violence and protests following the death of a youth named Paresh Mesta. The 18-year-old’s body was found in a pond in Honnavar on December 8, followed by social media campaign by some Hindutva elements that he was brutalised by some people from another community before death, leading to violent protests.
On December 11, during a protest, police personnel were attacked and a police vehicle was set on fire by protesters.
The post-mortem and report from a forensic doctor of Kasturba Medical College did not reveal signs of brutalisation. Police say the exact cause of death is yet to be ascertained. The Karnataka government has handed over probe to CBI in the wake of violence and threat of continued protests by BJP.
Immediately after December 11 violence, Honnavar police arrested a school teacher named Timappa Parameshwar Nayak, 43, from Kumta on charges of spreading rumours on WhatsApp regarding Mesta’s death.
In other cases for inciting of violence through social media posts, a man identified as Shankar Naik, a right-wing activist from Bhatkal town, was booked in two cases for separate posts on December 9 for allegedly inciting violence against Muslims.
Honnavar police registered six suo motu cases on December 14 over social media posts. These include a Facebook group called Mangalore Hindus, which posted messages linking minority establishments in Kumta to extremism and Facebook posts by Ramesh Kimmanikar accusing the DC and SP of Uttara Kannada of being communally biased.