Police in Karnataka’s Ballari district have registered a case against Sri Rama Sene leader Sanjeev Maradi for offering Rs 10 lakh for the killing of a 20-year-old college student, Amulya Leona. Apart from making the bounty offer, Maradi, who is the district head of the Hindu outfit, had said that anyone who applies for bail on the student’s behalf would also be ‘encountered’ in a speech made on February 21.
However, the police have not made an arrest in the case yet. Ballari Superintendent of Police (SP) CK Baba told TNM, “Investigation is going on in the case. I can’t comment further as of the moment.”
An FIR (first information report) was registered on Monday evening at the Hospet Town Police Station under Sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), based on a complaint by Bhaskar Reddy, a CPI(M) leader in Ballari city.
The FIR in fact was filed only three days after the speech. On the other hand, the police had on February 21 arrested a student named Ardra for holding a liberation poster at an event in Bengaluru. Ardra who had held a poster that said, "Muslim, Dalit, Kashmiri, Bahujan Adivasi, Trans liberation now," in Kannada and English was immediately arrested by the police.
Congress leader and advocate Brijesh Kallapa criticised the police inaction saying that the police has set double standards and are acting based on the political affiliation of the accused.
He said, “See the Karnataka police had traditionally enjoyed a high degree of respectability because of the fact that they are totally non-partisan but the recent 3-4 incidents have totally shaken people’s confidence on the Karnataka police.”
He stated, “The first incident is that of the school in Mangaluru owned by RSS functionary Kalladka Prabhakar Bhatt where the enactment of Babri Masjid takes place and there was no arrests made or action taken or nothing, not even a police investigation. But in Bidar incident where children in Shaheen school, even children are subjected to interrogation.”
Incidentally, the Ram Sene was under the scanner as part of the probe on senior journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh’s murder.
Maradi had declared a bounty for Amulya, a student who had been arrested by police in Bengaluru on February 20 for saying ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ at an anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) event. Hyderabad MP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaddudin Owaisi was the chief guest at the event. The next day, another student Ardra was arrested for simply holding a liberation poster at an event in Bengaluru.
Following Amulya's arrest, several BJP leaders, including Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, and opposition leaders Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy condemned Amulya's statements.
The complaint section of the FIR mentions a media report of the statement made by Maradi about the Rs 10 lakh reward for those killing Amulya. Bhaskar Reddy argued that these were provocative statements and had triggered a law and order situation. The statements also incited fear for life and so there is a need for appropriate action, he said.