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HomeIndia‘Road-rage murder’ gets communal twist: Why Karnataka Police fact-checked home minister &...

‘Road-rage murder’ gets communal twist: Why Karnataka Police fact-checked home minister & others

State Home Minister Araga Jnanendra claimed victim was ‘brutally murdered’ because he ‘could not speak in Urdu’. He issued a clarification after police posted a fact-check.

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Bengaluru: An alleged road rage incident that led to a youth’s murder in Bengaluru’s Goripalya locality snowballed into a major controversy, as Karnataka Police disproved the communal angle given to the incident — amplified by state Home Minister Araga Jnanendra — in a ‘fact-check’ on its official website.

As rumours of Muslim men stabbing a Hindu man to death because he “could not speak in Urdu” created a ripple in the state, police immediately issued clarifications dismissing any communal angle to the incident, which took place Tuesday.

The clarifications, however, fell on deaf ears, as Jnanendra and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National General Secretary C.T. Ravi made communally coloured statements on the death of the youth, identified by police as Chandru, a Christian who lived in Bengaluru’s Cottonpete locality.  

“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.

Meanwhile, an agitated Ravi told reporters: “It is unfortunate that Chandru was murdered because he spoke Kannada. What country are we in? I condemn this murder. This shouldn’t be seen in an individual capacity. There is a conspiracy behind this.” 

“What has happened in Goripalya today may happen across the country. When the victim is a Hindu, liberal intellectuals don’t speak a word, Siddaramaiah doesn’t even think of offering condolences,” Ravi claimed. 

However, soon after, the Karnataka Police disproved the leaders’ remarks on its official fact-check page, without naming Jnanendra or any other political leader.

Within an hour, the state home minister issued a ‘clarification’ to reporters

“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. 

The state home minister and BJP national general secretary’s comments came at a time when Karnataka is already witnessing communal tension over several issues ranging from the hijab controversy, to the banning of Muslims traders at temple fairs and festivals, as well as the row over ‘halal’ meat.

Also Read: ‘Bhajans to counter azaan’: Sri Ram Sene takes cue from MNS, wants mosque loudspeakers banned

The incident

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

“Shahid, who was a local resident, called for back-up and two of his friends arrived at the spot. The fight went out of hand and Shahid stabbed Chandru on his right thigh. He succumbed as a result of severe blood loss. The accused and the victim do not know each other. The victim is from a different locality,” Dr Sanjeev M. Patil, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Bengaluru West division, told ThePrint. 

Shahid and his two friends have been apprehended and booked for murder, the DCP further said, adding that Shahid is a history-sheeter.

Soon after the murder, claims of Muslims murdering a Hindu Dalit man for refusing to speak in Urdu started doing the rounds on social media. Given the communal colour the incident was taking on, Bengaluru’s Commissioner of Police Kamal Pant, in a rare act, took to social media to dispel the rumours at around 10 pm.

Congress files complaint against Jnanendra, Ravi

Accusing the BJP government and its leaders of fueling communal tension in the state, the Congress filed a complaint with the Malleswaram police Thursday, demanding action against them.

“The home minister doesn’t have basic common sense. Even before investigation, he gave a communal colour to the incident. The police commissioner has to register a case against him for trying to spoil the sentiments of people and communalising the situation. He must be dismissed immediately,” Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president D.K. Shivakumar told reporters Thursday. 

Congress’ legislature party chief and Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly Siddaramaiah too has demanded police action against C.T. Ravi.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: BJP slams Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw for ‘growing divide’ in Karnataka remark, she has ‘faith in govt’


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