The soil of communally sensitive Karavali region in Karnataka is becoming bloodier by the day. The recent attacks on Sangh Parivar workers and PFI activists in Mangaluru and neighbouring localities have got one wondering if Karavali is going the Kannur way where political murders have become common. Albeit, in Karnataka, it is more to do with ideology and affiliation with specific groups.
The coastal Karnataka region has always been communally sensitive. The region has witnessed instances of pro-Hindu and pro-Islamic organisations clash with each other. While most such instances were impromptu, recent attacks, murders are of a different kind. Planned and executed with the involvement of elements outside the State. "One thing is certain, the culture of violence, murder has been successfully implanted in Karavali districts. Unfortunately, the leaders are not foreseeing what it will lead to," said BJP leader Suresh Kumar.
"Culture of violence successfully implanted in Karavali"
The BJP's Karnataka unit has claimed that in the last three years at least 23 Sangh Parivar workers have been killed across Karnataka while 6 have been assaulted. Even as the BJP state unit released these numbers, another Sangh worker in Mangaluru was attacked by miscreants using a machete. This assault came a day after Sharath was bid a final farewell. The culture of stone pelting during a funeral procession, as witnessed during Sharath's funeral is a new trend in the coastal districts. Police officers believe that the involvement of people from neighbouring Kerala has a lot to do with it.
"The pattern is unmissable. At least 12 or 14 murders of Parivar workers that have taken place has the same trend. They come on motorbikes, assault with weapons and vanish. There is a common thread in all incidents. Mob clashes are successfully replaced by this individual mortal attacks and the people whose ideology you don't like are. You don't know the attackers here and you can't even identify them because they finish their work and vanish into the neighbouring state," Suresh Kumar added.
The police do not disagree. While the local police arrested a dozen persons who pelted stones during the RSS worker's funeral are unable to identify those who attacked him. "They don't seem to be locals. They would have been identified by now had they been people from the same district. By the time we start tracing them, they vanish into the neighbouring states and jurisdiction becomes an issue. Unlike Kannur, the fight here is not political, it seems communal," said a police officer on the condition of anonymity.
Kerala politics is bloodied
In Kerala, the numbers are scary. Bloody politics has been the way for Kerala especially Kannur for the last 16 years. Largely after the RSS started venturing into the districts. Between 2000 and 2016 official police records from Kerala suggest that in Kannur alone 69 political murders were reported. In 2000, the highest number of political deaths, 9 were reported from both sides, CPM and Sangh Parivar. in 2002 it was 8, another big number while 2008 recorded the highest number of 12 deaths. Since CPM's Pinarayi Vijayan government came to power in Kerala in 2016, at least 8 political deaths were reported.
Congress leaders neither accept nor reject the Kannur-parallel
Speaking to OneIndia, U T Khader, a minister in Karnataka cabinet and a leader from the Karavali said that the time was to ensure peace and not indulge in blame game. While he said that the recent incidents may have panned out like the killings in Kannur but only an investigation would put things in perspective.
"This is no time for blind blame game. Mangaluru has seen such incidents in the past and I am confident that it will return to normalcy shortly. Let me highlight that RSS worker Sharath was taken to the hospital by a Muslim friend. Now, that is the culture of Mangaluru and not the attacks," U T Khader said.
He added that the attack on Sharath was a trickle down effect of what the district had witnessed over the weeks. " 15 days ago in Kalladka, an RSS worker, Mithun assaulted a Muslim boy. The district saw a bandha but RSS opposed it. Mithun was shielded by many people and he was not arrested. Police said he was absconding but rumours of him being spotted made the rounds. Later, a Hindu Jagaran Vedike member and a PFI worker clashed with each other which led to two groups pelting stones from a temple and a mosque at each other. After a week, Ashraf, a PFI worker was murdered by a Sangh worker and after three days Sharath was assaulted," U T Khader explained. He also reiterated that the issue was between members of two organisations and not between two communities. "Are the attacks like Kannur attacks, I am not sure but let the inquiry indicate what it is all about," he said.
"Attackers from the neighbouring State"
Intelligence inputs during this year's Tippu Jayanti celebrations in Karnataka confirmed that teams from Kerala rode into Karnataka. Intelligence inputs added that the teams that arrived made their way to Kodagu, Mysuru and Dakshin Kannada. Checkpoints were set up at multiple entry and exit points near sensitive localities and the authorities ensured that no untoward incident took place.
In a letter addressed to the Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje has sought an NIA investigation into the cases just like the one in RSS worker RSS murder case in Bengaluru. "The Congress government in Karnataka is absolutely cold, insensitive, cruelly indifferent, criminally negligent and irresponsible to these heinous killings,' she said.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, however, without naming any organisations or groups held that those responsible will be brought to the books. He added that groups that wanted to create unrest in the State will not be allowed to do so. Sounding eerily similar to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan each time a case of political murder is reported in Kerala.