Protestors allege that police is trying to cover-up the death of Paresh Mesta; Section 144 imposed in the district.

Hindu youth death Protests intensify in Uttara Kannada top cops car burnt
news Monday, December 11, 2017 - 17:40

Violent demonstrations rocked Karntaka’s Uttara Kannada district on Monday when pro-Hindu outfits took to the streets alleging that the police was trying to cover-up the death of Paresh Mesta. A few police personnel were injured and three are said to be in critical condition.

Nineteen-year-old Mesta’s body was found floating in Honnavar’s Shettykere two days after communal tensions erupted in the district. On Monday, BJP workers and several pro-Hindutva outfits organized protests in Karwar, Honnavar, Mundagoda and Kumta against his death.

In Kumta, the situation took a turn for the worse when an altercation broke out between the police and protestors. According to the Uttara Kannada police, the argument exploded after protestors burnt tyres and resorted to stone pelting. “The protestors began pelting stones at a police van in Kumta’s Mastikatte area. That’s when we resorted to lathi charge and we also fired a few rounds in the air to disperse the crowd. However, Inspector General of Western Range Hemanth Nimbalkar’s car was set on fire. Three police constables and a few Home Guards suffered injuries in the protests,” police sources said.

Speaking to TNM, IG Nimbalkar said that he was not in the car when the miscreants set it on fire. “I was trying to disperse the crowd when it happened,” he said.

One of the personnel injured in the attack was driving a police jeep when stone pelters attacked him. “The driver, sub-inspectors Santosh Shetty and Sampath are in a critical condition now. They are undergoing treatment. A woman sub-inspector was injured when a stone hit the back of her neck. She has been treated successfully,” the sources added.

In Honnavar taluk, Bharatiya Janata Party workers took to the streets demanding that those responsible for Mesta’s death be arrested.

The saffron party workers set tyres and a few road barriers on fire. When the fire fighters came to put out the flames, the enraged crowd surrounded the fire engine and obstructed the personnel from coming through.

“There were thousands of protestors present and they blocked our entry … We could douse the flames only when they dispersed,” the police added.

When TNM contacted Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy, he alleged that the BJP was trying to provoke the people and was politicising the incident. “The BJP leaders are not doctors. How can they declare that the boy was murdered? Let the autopsy report come. If the report says it was a murder then action will be taken of course. In the meantime, the BJP is only trying to politicise the issue and disrupt peace,” Ramalinga Reddy said.

He also rubbished the protestor’s claim that the police had hidden Mesta’s body. “Why will the police cover-up the incident? They are working very efficiently on this case. But the BJP has to be patient and wait for the post-mortem report … The autopsy was performed by expert doctors and the whole thing has been recorded on CCTV cameras. They [the BJP] are just trying to paint this incident as a communal one,” Reddy added.

 He also alleged that the BJP workers were resorting to aggression based on orders from the high command. “Everyone saw Pratap Simha’s video. And the videos of Eshwarappa and Ananth Kumar Hegde, which went viral. Pratap Simha, an MP, says that the high command has asked them to protest aggressively. That’s what is happening now in Uttara Kannada. The BJP is doing this on purpose. I appeal to the BJP to please let the people live in peace,” he said.

State president of the BJP, BS Yeddyurappa reacted strongly to the reports and said, “They were protesting peacefully in Kumta ... The police resorted to lathi charge unnecessarily and this angered the protesters. This shows that the 'goondaism' prevalent in the Siddaramaiah government. Tomorrow, Jagadish Shettar [Leader of Opposition in the Assembly] and Eshwarappa [Leader of Opposition in the Vidhana Parishad] will carry out a massive satyagraha. We will not stop protesting until Paresh Mesta's killers are caught."

Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, preventing unlawful assembly, has been imposed in Uttara Kannada and 25 people have been arrested in connection to the protests.


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