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Bajrang Dal worker Harsha’s murder: 6 arrested, Shivamogga simmers after day of violence

FIRs have been filed over violence, destruction to property by mobs during Harsha Nagaraj’s funeral Monday. Curfew extended till Friday morning in Shivamogga.

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Bengaluru: The Shivamogga police Tuesday said six persons have been arrested so far in connection with the Sunday murder of Bajrang Dal member Harsha Nagaraj. However, the situation remained tense in the city, with two more instances of arson recorded Tuesday. 

Following violence and arson during the funeral procession in Shivamogga Monday, a curfew under Section 144 of the Code for Criminal Procedure was imposed for the next 24 hours. It has now been extended till Friday morning, with shops selling essential commodities remaining open from 6 am to 9 am.

Pratap Reddy, ADGP (Law and Order), Karnataka, told reporters in Shivamogga that all accused have been identified.  

“Some are residents of Shivamogga and some are from outside. Nothing can be said about the involvement of any organisation yet, but we are in the process of investigating all angles. As of today, the situation in Shivamogga is calm and no untoward incident has taken place,” Reddy said.

B.M. Lakshmi Prasad, Shivamogga’s Superintendent of Police, gave details of the six men arrested so far to the press Tuesday evening. “Mohammed Kashif, Syed Nadeem, Asifullakhan, Rihan Sharif, Nihan and Abdul Afnan have been arrested so far. All are between the ages of 20 and 22 years, except Kashif, who is 30,” the SP said.

Prasad added that the accused men as well as the victim have a history of criminal cases against them.

About the murder itself, police officials said the accused arrived in a car and eyewitnesses have detailed how the crime unfolded. Any weapon used in the crime is yet to be recovered.

Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political arm of the Islamist organisation Popular Front of India (PFI), has denied the BJP’s allegations that it was involved in the murder of Harsha.

Also read: After Reddy brothers, it’s Jarkiholis. But many Karnataka BJP leaders are upset by their rise

Cases filed for Monday’s violence

Some residents filed complaints on incidents of arson, rioting and damage to property Monday, allegedly by mobs participating in Harsha’s funeral procession. Eighteen vehicles had been damaged and eight people injured in Monday’s violence.

Purported members of Hindutva organisations were caught on camera pelting stones at Muslim colonies, damaging bikes, autos and goods carriers believed to belong to Muslims.

The violence came after senior BJP leaders like K.S. Eshwarappa and B.L. Santhosh accused “Muslim goons” of murdering Nagaraj.

“We have identified 19 cases of violence, of which FIRs have been filed in nine so far,” the SP said.

Additional DGP Pratap Reddy added: “We are also in the process of tracing victims who have lost their properties to get complaints registered.”

However, even though 1,200 police personnel are deployed in Shivamogga, two more incidents of arson were reported Tuesday morning.

SDPI denies all allegations

A host of BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders have accused the PFI and its political arm SDPI of involvement in Harsha’s killing, demanding action against them. 

Union minister Shobha Karandlaje had also sought an NIA inquiry into matter.

Leaders of the SDPI have rejected the allegation, distancing themselves from the accused. 

“This is a political murder but committed by the BJP/RSS, worried about losing their power in the State. They are attempting to divert people’s attention with such incidents,” claimed Imran Ahmed, district president of SDPI in Shivamogga.

“Those arrested by the police and the BJP leaders inciting violence should give the answers. The SDPI has no connection to those arrested,” Ahmed added. 

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)

Also read: Shivamogga youth murder: National parties have destabilised peace of Karnataka, says HD Kumaraswamy


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