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‘Hindus killed for being Hindus’ series: Story of BJYM member Praveen Nettaru, killed by Islamists after police denied him protection

Praveen Nettaru was an executive committee member of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in the Dakshin Kannada district of Karnataka, who was killed by Islamists on July 26, 2022

On July 26, Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha worker Praveen Nettaru was hacked to death by Islamist assailants. Nettaru, who ran a poultry business, was returning home when the attack happened. The killers came on a bike in Bellari, Dakshina Kannada of Karnataka, in the late evening and attacked Nettaru with sharp weapons. The assailants escaped after the attack. Nettaru was rushed to the hospital, but he could not be saved.

Praveen Nettaru’s murder and initial speculations about the reason behind the crime

Praveen Nettaru was an active member of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing popularly known as Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. He was an executive committee member of the Dakshin Kannada district unit of the organization. He owned a poultry business in Bellari. On 26th July 2022, when he was returning home after closing his shop, he was attacked by sharp weapons and hacked to death by the attackers.

According to the eyewitnesses of the incident, the assailants came on a motorcycle. The motorcycle had a Kerala registration number. The location where the incident happened is close to the Kerala border. The assailants fled immediately after Praveen Nettaru fell down. Praveen Nettaru was taken to hospital but he could not survive.

As the Karnataka police registered an FIR in this case and launched an investigation, different theories began to appear along with the initial speculations and subsequent arrests. Primary reports suggested that two recent incidents, including the murder of a Muslim man and a matter related to a mosque, could have led to the murder of Praveen Nettaru. But before details of all those theories appeared first in the investigation and then in public, the Karnataka government and the state unit of the BJP witnessed a massive outrage staged by the party workers and Hindus across the state.

Investigations and Arrests

On July 28, the Karnataka Police arrested two persons on suspicion of involvement in the BJP Yuva Morcha member Praveen Kumar Nettaru’s murder case. The accused were identified as Zakir and Mohammed Shafiq. The duo was arrested from Kasargod, Kerala. Zakir is 29 years old and is a resident of Savanoor whereas Mohammed Shafiq who is 27 years old belongs to Bellari. These two were the conspirators of the murders and not the actual assailants.

Hours after the arrest of the two accused, reports emerged that Shafiq and Zakir are linked to the Islamist terrorist organization PFI and SDPI. The wife of Shafiq has confirmed that her husband was an active member of the PFI and that he used to participate in all the ‘social’ activities. She also said that on the day of the incident, he was not at home hinting that he might be involved in executing the murder of the BJP youth member. “My husband was a PFI member. He was aware that the murder took place,” Shafiq’s wife told India Today.

Shafiq was also associated with SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) and had organized various ‘social’ events. The wife after the arrest while talking to the media also said that initially, her husband was not aware of the murder. Later he had tears in his eyes when he came to know about who was murdered in the village. 

Shafiq’s father worked in Praveen Nettaru’s shop

Another important fact in the matter is that father of the accused Shafiq and his father Ibrahim worked as a butcher at the chicken shop of Praveen Nettaru. This was revealed by Shafiq’s father Ibrahim himself while talking to the media. Ibrahim told India Today,  “I work at Praveen’s shop. My son and Praveen used to talk there.” Ibrahim denied his son’s involvement in the crime and alleged that they are targeted because they are Muslim. The brutal killing of Praveen Nettaru happens to be the latest case where the perpetrator and his family were known to the victim.

Kanhaiya Lal – a tailor from Udaipur – and Umesh Kolhe – a chemist from Amravati – were killed by Islamists for sharing social media posts supporting former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. In both these cases, the informers or conspirators were known to the victims. The photograph and location of Kanhaiya Lal were leaked and made viral by his neighbor Nazim. Nazim and his co-religionists also conducted a recce of his shop.

The tragedy that befell upon the family of Umesh Kolhe was also facilitated by his close friend of 16 years named Yusuf Khan. Like Kanhaiya Lal, Kolhe was hacked to death for supporting Nupur Sharma. While prioritizing his Faith over friendship, Yusuf provoked Islamists to kill his friend. According to police, Yusuf Khan had forwarded Umesh Kolhe’s message supporting Nupur Sharma in WhatsApp groups, instigating Islamists against him by saying that he was supporting someone accused of blasphemy.

Theories hatched about the reasons for the murder

Till now three different theories citing various reasons for the murder came to light. One is that he was killed because he posted on social media supporting Kanhaiya Lal, who was beheaded by Jihadis recently for supporting Nupur Sharma and criticizing the Congress government. The second theory was that he may have been murdered as retaliation for the death of a Muslim man, who had been beaten up by Hindus after he had beaten up a Hindu youth. The third theory said that the chicken shop that Praveen Nettaru had opened, where accused Shafiq and his father worked, had overtaken the meat shops run by Muslims in the area and had become an object of hatred for the Islamists there.

Apathy by the police department

According to the second theory, many local Hindu leaders were allegedly on the hitlist of Islamists in that area. This was to avenge the death of a Muslim named Masood who is said to be an alleged victim of the so-called cow vigilantism. According to reports, Praveen Nettaru informed the local police about the threats and asked for protection. But, the police denied providing him any protection saying that he is not that big a leader to get such threats.

More arrests linked to PFI and SDPI in the Praveen Nettaru murder case

On Thursday 11th August 2022, three main accused in the Praveen Nettaru murder case were arrested. Mangaluru police nabbed the suspects near Talapady check post at 8 am on August 11. The arrested accused were identified as Shiyabuddin Ali and Bashir from Sullia and Riyaz from Subramanya. He also suspected that the arrested accused can be linked with the Islamic organization Popular Front of India and its political wing the Social Democratic Party of India. On 18th august 2022, National Investigation Agency took custody of the five key accused in this case for further investigation.

The outrage after the murder of Praveen Nettaru

There was a massive protest in southern parts of Karnataka after Praveen Nettaru’s murder. Protests broke out in Bellari and Sullia, and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad called for a bandh. Hundreds of people escorted Praveen Nettaru’s dead body as it was taken to his home on July 27 in the morning.

After this murder, outraged BJP Yuva Morcha members started to furnish mass resignations. Members of the youth wing of the party were distressed after this incident and expressing their concern they took to social media to put up posts threatening mass resignation.

Karnataka BJP MLA Renukacharyra also said that Hindus are not safe despite there being a BJP regime and he also threatened of tendering his resignation from the MLA post if the Hindus in the state are not protected.

Hindu activists and BJP workers surrounded BJP state party president Nalin Kumar Kateel’s car and heckled him as they protested Praveen Nettaru’s murder, demanding answers from senior party leaders.

Karnataka BJP had planned an official event at Soudha, and ‘Janotsava’, a mega rally at Doddaballapur, on July 28 to mark Bommai’s one year in the office. National President of BJP JP Nadda was scheduled to attend the event. In view of the murder and the subsequent massive protests, the party canceled the program.

Stand of the state government

On Thursday, 28th July 2022, Karnataka’s chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said that he will not hesitate to implement the UP model of dealing with the anti-national and fundamentalist miscreants in Karnataka. 

CM Basavaraj Bommai said, “Whatever possible we will do that. If need be, if the situation says ‘UP model’ or much stricter than that we will not hesitate for that also.” The term UP model means the strong measures taken by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to control anti-national activities in Uttar Pradesh, including the use of bulldozers against miscreants and mafia. 

On the intervening night of July 27 and July 28, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced that the state government would form a commando force with special training, intelligence, ammunition, and resources to go after anti-national and terror groups conspiring to disrupt the peace and stir communal tension in the state.

Hinduphobia following Islamism in Karnataka in 2022

Though northern parts of the country have been historically known for repeatedly waged invasions by barbaric Islamist tyrants, Deccan too had its own issues regarding medieval Islamic rules and demographic alterations in certain pockets which later went on to expand in larger territories. Secularized glorification of Tipu Sultan and liberal attempts to justify Nizam or Muslims who ‘willfully stayed back in India‘ after dissolving Hyderabad are therefore unavoidable parts of the Hindu-Muslim discourse in the southern parts of India. Forming the current situation in Karnataka in 2022, before the murders of Hindus thus has shades of historic facts lying at the core of its causality added to the rise of the Indian Mujahideen led by the Bhatkal brothers in the 21st century.

Karnataka witnessed a yet worse shade of Islamism at the very beginning of the year 2022. The issues mainly responsible for triggering the Islamic unrest in the state were Azaan and Hijab. Muslim girl students in various educational institutes in Karnataka took an adamant stand over wearing headscarves as per Islamic traditional costume despite prescribed uniform dress codes in those institutes. This went on to become a big issue in the early months of 2022. Azaan from the loudspeakers in the mosques five times a day – especially in the early morning – causing disturbance to nearby residents was the other one. Besides, incidents of protests or violence under the guise of protest over Nupur Sharma’s alleged blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Muhammad also added to the prevalent sensitive situations in the state months ahead of the murders of Bajrang Dal activist Harsha and BJYM leader Praveen Nettaru.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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