The political slugfest over the serial killings in coastal Karnataka region has threatened to create more divide between communities in the communally sensitive region. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai's gesture of paying visit only to the BJP activist's residence and announcement of a compensation package to the family of the Hindu youth and turning a blind eye to the families of the Muslim youth has stirred a controversy that the ruling party is treading on the communal path.
Alleging partial treatment by the ruling BJP government, prominent Muslim organisations have boycotted the peace meeting organised by the police department in Dakshina Kannada district. Three murders, two of Muslim youth and one of BJP activist in the last 10 days have shaken the state and raised concerns.
J.R. Lobo, former MLA alleged that the partial stand of CM Bommai to visit only Hindu victim and turning a blind eye towards the Muslim victims is the main reason for the absence of Muslim organisations from the peace meeting. "Compensation is given from the government to Praveen's family. But, CM Bommai did not bother to visit one of the Muslim victim Masood's place located close by,' He said.
Moreover, the political slugfest between CM Bommai and Siddaramaiah on the killings of more than 30 Hindu and Muslim youths in the state, especially in the coastal region between 2013 and 2017, has reopened the wounds. Police sources reveal that the war of words between two top leaders will only ensure further communal divide in the state.
Following the murder of BJP activist Praveen Kumar Nettaru, CM Bommai attacked Siddaramaiah stating that withdrawing the cases against the SDPI and PFI organisations lodged in the killings of 22 Hindu youths was the main reason behind such developments in the state.
CM Bommai stated that the organisations have become emboldened to carry out such activities. Siddaramaiah has also reacted sharply against CM Bommai and the ruling BJP.
"During my tenure as CM a total of 23 murders took place due to the political rivalry and communal conflicts. Among 23, 12 are Hindus and 11 are Muslims. SDPI and PFI workers are accused in 8 murder cases of Hindus among 12. In one case a Congress worker was made an accused. 99 persons have been arrested and investigation is on," Siddaramaiah stated.
"Bajrang Dal activists were made accused in 8 murder cases of Muslims and Hindu Jagaran Vedike, Sri Rama Sene and VHP workers were made accused in other three murder cases. The action has been taken against 115 accused persons," Siddramaiah maintained.
However, the BJP leaders claim that during the rule of Siddaramaiah more than 30 Hindu youths were killed. The BJP in the 2018 elections made it a major issue and the party sweeped coastal region Assembly seats.
National General Secretary and BJP MP C.T. Ravi stated in the back drop of Praveen's murder that banning SDPI and PFI was not the solution and the problem has to be dealt in a different way. Minister for Higher Education Dr C.N. Ashwath Narayan stated that the time was ripe for the elements to be dealt with strongly. "We won't hesitate to go five steps ahead of the Yogi Adityanath government," he added.
Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy declared that he will visit the Muslim victims in Dakshina Kannada district and slammed CM Bommai for lacking in following the "Raj Dharma" laid down by former Late PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"CM Bommai has violated the sanctity of the oath taken during the swearing-in ceremony by visiting only the BJP victim's house and not visiting the family of Muslim youth. Forget about following Raj Dharma, the BJP is not even giving justice to its cadres," he maintained.
With the Assembly elections less than 10 months away, Karnataka, known as one of the progressive states, remains deeply divided on the communal lines. It is to be seen how things shape up in the coming days, when political parties turn heat to win elections at any cost.