A 32-year-old worker from the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the BJP, was killed in the hotspot Dakshina Kannada district on the Karnataka coast on
Tuesday evening. Following the incident, several BJP workers expressed their anger against the state government and party leaders by targeting its chairman’s vehicle and handing in their resignations.
Activists and residents heckle @BJP4Karnataka President @nalinkateel @karkalasunil following the murder of #PraveenNettaru in Dakshina Kannada district. They booed the leaders and shouted slogans against #BJP @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/QDey9jWJUt
— Kiran Parashar (@KiranParashar21) July 27, 2022
According to the police, Praveen Nettaru, a resident of Bellare in Sullia taluk about 300 km from Bangalore, was killed with an ax while closing his chicken coop around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Police sources said a preliminary investigation revealed the attackers came on two motorbikes with Kerala license plates and hacked Praveen’s head and neck before fleeing.
In a complaint filed by an employee of Praveen’s store, Akshaya Fresh Chicken Farm, the BJYM worker was about to leave for his residence on his two-wheeler when the attack happened. Praveen had backed inside his store to grab the raincoat he had forgotten when he was hacked, according to the complaint. Praveen tried to escape but collapsed outside his store, he said.
Police suspect the attack was in retaliation for another murder that took place in the district on July 19, when an eight-member squad allegedly assaulted a house painter, identified as Masud, who died of his injuries two days later.
According to police, eight people, identified as Sudhir, Sunil Kelanje, Abhilash Bellare, Jim Ranjith, Shivaprasad, Bhaskar, Ranjith and Sadashiva from Kelanje village, were arrested. Sudhir and Masud were neighbors and the accused were allegedly associated with pro-Hindutva groups.
“No solid link has emerged between the slain BJP youth leader and Masud’s killing which occurred last week, but as the previous killing was communal in nature, the two killings are suspected to be related,” they said. police sources.
Police are also investigating whether Praveen’s killing is linked to a June 29 Facebook post in which he wrote that a “poor tailor” had been beheaded and that the killers had threatened Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was referring to the murder of Kanhaiyalal, a tailor from Udaipur in Rajasthan, for his comments in support of BJP’s Nupur Sharma over his remarks on the Prophet.
Law enforcement sources said the manner in which Praveen was killed resembled the modus operandi employed by radical People’s Front of India (PFI) militants in the targeted killings of pro-Hindutva militants in Dakshina Kannada and other parts of Karnataka in recent years.
On Tuesday evening, police imposed restraining orders in Puttur, Sulya, Kadaba and Belthangady. A stone-throwing incident against a government bus was reported in the district.
On Wednesday, Karnataka BJP Chairman and MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, Minister of State V Sunil Kumar and RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat were heckled by a crowd when they came to Bellare to pay their last respects to Praveen.
The workers were furious that the leaders arrived only a day later and accused them and the BJP state government of failing to protect the Hindu activists. Several BJYM workers also tendered their resignation to mark their protest against the government.
Earlier, workers ignored pleas from Praveen’s family members not to hold a procession and allow them to perform the final rites. The police used a charge of lathi to disperse the crowd.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said the suspects were from Kerala. “We have formed five SP-led teams and an investigation is ongoing. Police have taken 10 people into custody and we will ensure justice is served,” he said. The minister was addressing reporters after holding a meeting with Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and DGP Praveen Sood.
Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) leader Shakir Alake has accused police of taking “innocent young people” into custody in connection with the murder.
Bommai, who is set to mark his first year as CM, said: “I strongly condemn the murder of Praveen. We will ensure that the culprits are brought to justice.
This is the second incident of a pro-Hindutva activist being killed in Karnataka this year. In February, Bajarang Dal activist Harsha was murdered in Shivamogga district. Police had arrested six people in the case, which is currently being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).