Bengaluru: In the wake of BJP protests over the death of a young man, Karnataka Home Minister R. Ramalinga Reddy on Tuesday blamed the opposition party for disturbing peace in the coastal region of the southern state.
“The BJP’s state leaders are trying to provoke violence in the coastal towns (Kumta, Honnavar and Sirsi) on instructions from party President Amit Shah,” Reddy told reporters here following protest rallies in the region over the death of an 18-year-old youth last week.
“As assembly elections in Karnataka are due in early 2018, the BJP is fomenting trouble to polarise people and play vote-bank politics. We will not allow them to succeed and deal firmly with trouble-makers,” Reddy said.
Defying ban orders and breaking barricades, about 600 Bharatiya Janata Party supporters staged protests at Sirsi in Uttara Kannada district.
They demanded a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the “unnatural” death of Paresh Mesta, whose mutilated body was found floating in a lake on the outskirts of Honnavar, about 490 km northwest of Bengaluru.
Police caned protesters and took about 200 of them into preventive custody for violating a ban order under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code and for throwing stones at them and torching two-wheelers.
On the BJP’s demand for a NIA probe, Reddy said the state government was waiting for the autopsy report to ascertain the cause of Mesta’s death though an interim report from the Manipal hospital had ruled out foul play.
Reddy referred to a video clipping of the BJP’s Lok Sabha lawmaker from Mysuru Vijaya Simha in which he allegedly provoked BJP cadres to disrupt law and order.
“We will take action against all those, including BJP leaders, who have been spreading lies on the social media about Mesta’s death,” the Minister added.
Following the young man’s death, the state BJP had alleged that Mesta was “murdered by jihadists (extremists)”.
In Bengaluru, the BJP’s state unit leaders submitted a memorandum to Governor Vajubhai R. Vala, demanding a NIA probe.
“As Mesta was tortured and murdered by jihadists (extremists), we demand a NIA probe into the heinous crime against Hindu activists, including Mesta,” said the memorandum signed, among others, by BJP lawmakers K.S. Eshwarappa and Shobha Karandlaje.