Activist and writer Doddipalya Narasimha Murthy, General Secretary of Swaraj India and Secretary of the Gauri Media Trust set up in memory of journalist Gauri Lankesh, was arrested by police officials in Raichur district.
The arrest was made on October 24 when Narasimha Murthy was in Raichur as one of the speakers at a public discussion on ‘Alternate Media’. Police officials said that Narasimha Murthy was detained over serious charges including under the Arms Act and the Explosives Act which date back to 1994.
"For over 20 years, there have been multiple court warrants for his arrest. He has been found now and upon identification, we have executed the court warrant. We will be interrogating him over the cases", Raichur Superintendent of Police (SP) CB Vedamurthy told TNM.
Narasimha Murthy was produced in court and remanded to judicial custody till November 6.
In a statement, Raichur police officials stated that a case was registered against Narasimha Murthy at the Yapaldinni (Raichur Rural) police station in 1994 under the Arms Act and under sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (rioting) and 148 (rioting with arms) of the IPC. In 2001, another case was registered in the same police station under sections of the Indian Explosives Act and under sections 143, 147 (rioting), 355 (assault), 385 (extortion), 386 (extortion and grievously hurting a person, 307 (attempt to murder).
A third case was registered in Netaji Nagar police station under sections 307 (attempt to murder) and section 341 (wrongful confinement of a person). In 2016, another case was registered against him in Bengaluru's Jayaprakash Nagar under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Narasimha Murthy is a journalist, activist and writer based in Bengaluru. He regularly contributed to the Gauri Lankesh Patrike and is currently the Secretary of the Gauri Media Trust. The trust, in a statement, called for the police to conduct a fair and thorough investigation and raised questions over whether his arrest was a case of mistaken identity.
"He is known in society for fighting for the oppressed causes and writing in different media spaces on various issues consistently from the past two decades. He has been doing activism consistently including the struggle against BMIC Corridor publicly and is not an absconding person as claimed by the police,” the statement said.
Narasimha Murthy has also regularly appeared in events organised by the Gauri Media Trust in Bengaluru and in several other socio-political gatherings in the city. Narasimha was also integral to the relaunch of the newspaper 'Nyaaya Patha' in memory of slain journalist Gauri Lankesh.
His arrest was condemned by over 921 activists including freedom fighter HS Doreswamy; National President of Swaraj India, Yogendra Yadav; farmer rights activist Chukki Nanjundswamy; among several others. "He has been living for the last 25 years at his residence in Bengaluru. He has taken part in several public protests and worked as a journalist with newspapers. This is an attack on democracy by the police and the ruling government," a statement jointly signed by activists stated.
In a letter written to Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, the group of individuals called for a fair investigation into the charges and for Narasimha Murthy to be released from his pre-trial detention.