Following the murder of another pro-Hindu organisation volunteer, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka has reiterated its demand to ban Popular Front of India (PFI). The Karnataka government, however, has put the onus on the centre asking the BJP to get the Union government to ban PFI or any other organisation whose members are accused of disrupting communal harmony.
While the police are yet to verify the antecedents of suspects in the Deepak Rao murder case the BJP has already accused the PFI of being involved in the murder and have sought a ban on the organisation. The BJP has claimed that 22 of its workers or volunteers of Sangh Parivar have been killed in Karnataka under the Congress regime. Karnataka's Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy, however, dismissed the charges as "grossly exaggerated". "The BJP is exaggerating numbers of such incidents. Out of the total number of such deaths, 11 people belong to the Sangh Parivar and 6 to the PFI. The BJP, for political gains, has been claiming that 22 of its members have been killed," Ramalinga Reddy told the media on Thursday.
Reacting to BJP's demand of banning PFI, Reddy conveniently passed the onus on to the Union government. "The central government has the powers to ban any organisation that it deems fit. However, if PFI should be banned over allegations of being involved in murders of Hindu activists, should other organisations, responsible for the murder of PFI activists, also not be banned?" Reddy asked.
Rao, a volunteer of the Bajrang Dal, was hacked to death on Wednesday in Suratkal near Mangaluru. The Mangaluru police arrested four people in connection with the case. While two are in police custody, two more are being treated for bullet wounds in a hospital in Mangaluru after police opened fire at the suspects while giving them a chase.
Even as protests were witnessed in Suratkal on Thursday, Rao's body was cremated after Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the deceased's kin. The BJP has sought a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe in the case accusing the Siddaramaiah government of allowing the massacre of Hindu activists. Leaders of the BJP in Mangaluru staged a Rasta Roko in protest of the Congress government.