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Rohini Swamy | News18.com | Mangalore, India | July 30, 2022:: It has been five years and 22 days since Sharath Madiwala, an RSS worker, was hacked to death by miscreants just as he was downing the shutter of his family-run ‘Udaya Laundry’ on BC Road in Dakshin Kannada. His murder is suspected to have been in retaliation to the murder of Ashraf Kalayi, a member of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), a couple of weeks earlier.
Sharath’s father Taniyappa Madiwala walks around the ‘smaraka’ or memorial built in the memory of his son just a few metres away from their newly constructed home. He says he wanted to put up a big picture of Sharath in their sparsely furnished sitting room, but is yet to gather the courage to do so. Sharath’s face is a cruel reminder of how despite promises, the case remains unresolved till date.
“A few days ago, we conducted a pooja on his death anniversary. Except for family and a few friends, nobody else was present. Have they forgotten that my son gave up his life for the RSS? He was a dedicated worker, a boy with a heart of gold. He lived and breathed the Sangh. I am alive only because I want justice to be delivered, otherwise I am almost dead inside,” Taniyappa told this reporter when News18 visited their home.
“The reason behind my son’s murder is still unknown. Eyewitness are turning hostile and the police, after chargesheeting three people, have failed to bring the case to its logical end,” he said, while pointing out Sharath in a photograph to his one-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter Lashika and asking her to call him ‘mama’ or maternal uncle.
Police officials aware of the investigation said a man named Sharief has arrested as the main accused, while another accused, Kalandar Shafi, is still at large. Three people were chargesheeted, but the family insists that the conspiracy was hatched by several more.
On July 4, 2017, at around 9.20pm, Sharath was closing his laundry shop for the day when three miscreants arrived on a bike and attacked him with swords. His father heard the commotion and rushed to find Sharath in a pool of blood and along with some local vendors in the area, the young man was shifted to a hospital where he was declared dead two days later.
Five years later, 54 kilometres away from the spot that Sharath was murdered, Praveen Nettare was killed on July 26, once again suspected to be a killing as retaliation to the alleged murder of an SDPI worker identified as Masood on July 19.
The common thread in both these cases is the promise to hand over the investigation of the killings to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), but apart from promises, the irate Dakshin Kannada BJP cadre says nothing has progressed.
Three days after Praveen’s death, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced that the murder case investigation will be handed over to the NIA.
In March this year, Bajrang Dal worker Harsha was murdered in Shivamogga and after immense pressure from right-wing groups, the Karnataka government handed over the probe to the NIA.
“We demand that the investigations into Sharath’s case be reopened and the case also be handed over to the NIA. It is clear that the state police has been dragging its feet till now. Now there is no choice but to have a central agency thoroughly investigate it,” said Ganesh, a close family friend of the Madiwalas.
Several of Sharath’s friends who are actively working with the RSS and the BJP said while politicians have made several promises, this time BJP leaders should realise that they are playing with fire — with the emotions and lives of their Hindu cadre.
“After Praveen’s death, once again there is tension amongst us Hindus on the possibility of attacks on us. Someday we will have to die, we now that too,” said Sharan Poojary, a local driver who was watching memes and videos of Nalin Kumar Kateel promising to protect Hindus. Kateel is the Dakshin Kannada MP and state president of the BJP.
n January 2018, another Hindutva worker Deepak Rao was murdered in Katipalla in Surathkal. Deepak, who was riding his motorbike near Katipalla at around 1.30pm in the afternoon, was waylaid by a car. Four men with machetes attacked Deepak, who was later declared brought dead at the hospital.
A local VHP leader who has been helping Deepak’s family get justice said while they have been running from pillar to post seeking the arrest of those who killed their friend, BJP leaders who had promised a job for Deepak’s sister are yet to deliver on their promises. The case is in the trial stage now and one of the main accused in the case, Pinky Nawaz, has been arrested.
In 2016, RSS worker Rudresh was killed in broad daylight in Bengaluru. Rudresh was the city secretary of the RSS and was returning from a meeting of the organisation when two men on a motorcycle carrying machetes attacked him near a junction on Commercial Street in Bengaluru. The attackers pushed Rudresh off the bike and then proceeded to attack him with machetes and left him to bleed to death. Widespread protests were taken out across Karnataka by the BJP and the then Congress government transferred the case to the NIA after the Union Home Ministry asked the agency to take over the investigations.
This is probably the first time in the history of the BJP that the Dakshin Kannada region — which is known to be the ‘Hindutva factory’ — is facing backlash from its workers. The growing discontent amongst the cadre is because of the inaction by their leaders to solve the murders of several of their ‘heroes’ like Praveen Nettar, Sharath Madiwala, Deepak Rao, Harsha Jingade, Sukhananda Shetty amongst others who were “slain for ideology”.
The BJP rose to power in 2018 on the poll promise of delivering justice and safeguarding Hindus in the state.
“Many of our workers have been murdered for revenge. There were murders during the Congress regime as well. But when the BJP came to power, we were told that the sacrifice of every member who had been murdered will not be forgotten and the murderers will be booked. Where are they? Where is the action that was promised? We were assured that no Hindu will be killed. Today, every one of us who worked hard to bring the BJP to power, feels let down,” said Bajrang Dal district convenor Punith Attavar.
“The solution is not in handing over cases to the NIA. The solution is in a strong law that will clip the wings of the terrorists who attack our young men,” said an angry party worker based in Ujire who has been collecting signatures of the locals asking for a stringent law against the PFI.
BJP party functionaries agree that the anger amongst the cadre this time is swelling and it could affect the morale and work, especially when the state is heading towards a crucial election year.
“We work tirelessly to ensure the win of the BJP. But we are quite frustrated with the act that once the election is won, the representatives do not turn towards us to give us the much-needed political postings or opportunities. Take for example the Bilava community. We feel sidelined after elections,” said a Puttur-based local leader who did not want to be named.
Karnataka minister Sunil Kumar, who was one of those who faced the wrath of the party workers during Praveen’s funeral procession a few days ago, agrees there is simmering anger amongst the cadre.
“People are emotionally very upset at this point of time. There is a lot of pent-up anger and a feeling that the government has been soft. We have promised that the accused will be punished and it will be done,” Kumar told News18.
What could further hurt the BJP in Karnataka is the fact that several of their BJP Yuva Morcha office-bearers began sending in their resignation letters to mark their dismay.
“They are not just acts of tokenism but a genuine cry for help to save the BJP or face an internal rebellion. We are seeking to safeguard our Dharma and we hope the BJP senior leaders understand this,” said a Mangaluru city youth leader who recollected how BJP ST Morcha general secretary Rakesh TR couriered a copy of the Gita to Home Minister Arga Jnanendra, asking him to protect ‘dharma’ (righteousness) as Lord Krishna did while preaching to Arjuna.