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Face-saving act? Why state government transferred the road rage case to CID

After several BJP leaders saw a communal angle, Bengaluru Police Commissioner tweeted a clarification. But the issue didn’t stop there. 

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Bengaluru: After facing criticism for its own ministers and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders jumping the gun to attribute communal reasons to an alleged road rage murder, Karnataka’s BJP government has decided to transfer investigations into the case to the state police’s Crime Investigation Department (CID) from Bengaluru Police.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said Sunday that the investigations in the murder case of 22-year-old Chandru in J.J. Nagar police station limits in Bengaluru would be transferred to the CID.

“There is a need for an impartial, factual inquiry that will allow the truth to surface. Let a third party conduct an impartial inquiry,” Bommai said.

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The incident 

According to the Karnataka Police, Chandru and his friend Simon Raj’s bike bumped into another bike belonging to one Shahid within J.J. Nagar police station limits at around midnight on 5 April. The three then got into an argument over the accident.

Shahid called backup, and soon the situation went out of hand, ThePrint had reported earlier. Chandru was stabbed in his thigh and died of his injuries.

Shahid, who is believed to have had some criminal cases against him in the past,  and his friends have been arrested on murder charges.

Soon after Chandru’s death, fake posts declaring that a Dalit youth was murdered by Muslims in a Muslim majority locality for not speaking in Urdu went viral.

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Fact check, fake news 

The decision to transfer the case to CID  comes a day after BJP leaders — called out for attempting to communalise the murder — doubled down on their stand. While BJP’s national general secretary C.T. Ravi accused the Bengaluru police of “pressuring the Home Minister”, BJP’s State General Secretary went one step ahead and accused Bengaluru police commissioner Kamal Pant of “lying”.

“Chandru was killed for not speaking Urdu,” C.T. Ravi said despite a Karnataka police fact-checking website deeming this claim “false“. “I believe that the police have pressured the Home Minister to lie about it since the real reason behind the murder could have led to communal clashes,” Ravi added.

“The victim’s friend — Simon — who was with him during the incident has said that Chandru was stabbed after he said he couldn’t speak Urdu. The Police Commissioner had lied,” N. Ravi Kumar, general secretary, BJP Karnataka, told reporters on Saturday.

In an attempt to put an end to fake posts spiraling out of control, Bengaluru Police Commissioner Pant tweeted with details of the incident — careful to also mention that Chandru was Christian. Hours after Pant’s tweet, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra reiterated that the murder was over Urdu.

“I have taken information in the Chandru murder case. He was asked to speak in Urdu but he couldn’t. When he said he only knows Kannada, they stabbed him repeatedly and inhumanely murdered him. He was a Dalit youth and was murdered brutally,” Jnanendra told reporters at the BJP office in Bengaluru Wednesday. He retracted his statement within the hour.

“My previous statement was based on whatever initial information I had. But now, I have detailed information. It was an incident of road rage caused due to an accident between two bikes. Chandru was stabbed following an altercation. I have been told it had nothing to do with language and other things,” he said.

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(Edited By Uttara Ramaswamy)

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