A series of murders of Janata Dal (Secular) workers in Karnatakaâ€™s Mandya district over the past 10 days has the party leadership up in anger.
The murder of as many as four JD(S) workers, allegedly by Congress workers, has the southern district seething with outrage.
While 40-year-old Kumar was stabbed to death by three motorcycle-borne men on December 24 in Benamana Halli, 48-year-old Muthuraj and 25-year-old Nandish were killed two days later in Maddur taluk. In the latter case, a fight over water sharing reportedly took a violent turn, when the duo â€“ along with three others â€“ were attacked. And on Saturday night, 32-year-old Harish was stabbed to death by two persons.
On Monday, JD(S) MP CS Puttaraj told journalists that the party will observe a bandh on January 4 to protest against the series of political killings.
Asserting that Mandya district has always been a JD(S) stronghold, MP Puttaraj accused the government of "trying to scare party workers" in an attempt to break up the party.
"We are trying to figure out the motive behind the killings and if it is happening based on the direction of the government. Such incidents have never happened before and now all of a sudden, JD(S) workers are being killed in Malavalli, Maddur and KR Pete taluks. KR Pete was such a peaceful place and one of our party's strongholds. The incident which happened there has brought us a lot of pain," he told journalists in Pandavapura taluk.
Though Mandya SP Sudheer Kumar Reddy told The News Minute that the police has chosen to treat the four murders in isolation and not term them as political murders at this stage, senior JD(S) leader and MLC Basavaraj Horatti told TNM that "the Congress was deliberately creating disturbances in the district."
The senior leader feels that with the district being the party's stronghold, the Congress has strategically begun to "create nuisance" aiming at the upcoming Assembly elections in 2018.
"People here are fed up of the Congress administration and several Congressmen are in fact leaving the party to join us. The Congress wants to curb this movement and it has resorted to murder to do so," Basavaraj alleged.
He also accused the government of inaction.
"The police and the government has been trying to cover up these killings. These are nothing but political murders. What is alarming is the fact that the government does not seem to be taking necessary action against the killers. Post the district bandh on Wednesday, the party will launch a widespread agitation against the government on the 10th or 12th of this month," Basavaraj said.