The death of a Karnataka police officer Ganapathy and his chequered career

An (un)illustrious career?
The death of a Karnataka police officer Ganapathy and his chequered career
The death of a Karnataka police officer Ganapathy and his chequered career
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The death of Mangaluru DySP Ganapathy in a lodge on Thursday has blown into a huge political controversy for the Congress, coming as it does, close on the heels of the alleged suicide of Chikmaglur DySP Kallappa Handibag.

DySP MK Ganapathy (51) was found dead in a lodge in Madikeri on Thursday, after giving an interview to a local news channel called TV1. However, it is unclear as to why a senior police officer would give an interview to a television channel. Generally, senior police officers – and among them jurisdictional heads – only hold press conferences in high profile cases or respond to questions for specific crime stories. New appointees, such as the commissioner of a city or DGP of a state give interviews when they take charge.

Since his death, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Jagadish Shettar has demanded the resignation of Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George, as Ganapathy had alleged that George harassed him when he was home minister. George was relieved of the post last October.

Opposition leaders are turning up the heat on the Congress government, as just two days ago, Chikmagalur DySP Kallappa Handibag too allegedly committed suicide. However, Handibag was accused of kidnapping and extortion just before his suicide.

Some weeks ago, IPS officer Anupama Shenoy resigned from her post as Ballari DySP alleging that she was being harassed by senior officers.

(Un)illustrious career?

On social media the veracity of the allegations made by Ganapathy are being discussed, even as a section of the media and political establishment refer to him as “honest”. Some, however, are calling for caution against the angelic halo cast around him by his death, pointing out alleged human rights violations during his career as a police officer.

Hailing from Somwarpet in Kodagu district, Ganapathy began his career in 1991 as a sub-inspector, and was serving in the office of the Inspector-General (Wastern Range) in Mangaluru at the time of his death. His 25-year career was marked not just by allegations of corruption, but also alleged inaction during the Mangalore church attacks of 2008.

In 2014, he had been suspended for not following Standard Operating Procedure, allegedly after he pocketed money recovered from a thief.

A businessman named Rangaswamy had lodged a complaint with the Rajagopalnagar police station in October 2013, stating that Rs 1 crore had been stolen from his relative’s godown. But in the FIR, Ganapathy had written that only Rs 24,000 had been stolen. When the money was recovered from the businessman’s younger brother, Ganapathy allegedly returned only Rs 64 lakh.

Ganapathy, then inspector of Yashwantpur police station, was part of the team headed by then Bengaluru Joint Commissioner (Crime) Alok Kumar that allegedly killed rowdysheeter Pachi alias Prashanth in a fake encounter on September 25, 2010.

Prashanth’s mother had alleged that the police targeted him, foisted cases on him and put him in the list of history sheeters. Prashanth’s brother Lakshmikanth lodged a complaint with the Lokayukta police on June 18, 2015. Two bullets had hit Prashanth, one on the ankle and the other on the head from a distance of just two feet, because of which, the family said Prashanth had been killed in a fake encounter.

Church attacks

Ganapathy was Inspector at the Kadri police station in Manglauru when the church attacks were carried out. The Adoration Monastery was attacked allegedly by activists of the Bajrang Dal on September 10, 2008, after which a number of churches and prayer halls were attacked over several days.

Writing for Kannada commentary website Vartamaana, television journalist Naveen Soorinje recounts the events at a church in the Kulshekar area of the city. He recalled that he arrived at the church around the same time as the police, who had received information that Christians had gathered in large numbers.

A number of people had gathered at the church for prayers in the wake of multiple attacks on churches across the city.

“Alighting from the vehicle, Ganapathy asked the Christians to stop prayers and come out of the church. The devotees refused to disrupt prayers and come out. At this point, senior lawyer Mariamma Thomas and the church priest intervened. In the end, women, children and nuns filed out of the church in an orderly manner according to Ganapathy’s instructions. The police lathicharged the women, children and the nuns who were in their habits, even as they filed out in a disciplined manner. The nuns were assaulted until their hands and legs were swollen,” Naveen said.

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