Jain community stages protest after monk murdered in Karnataka
11 July, 2023 | Muskan Menghani
Jain organizations made demands to the state government, seeking police protection for monks during their foot pilgrimage, security for their accommodation, preservation of Jain monasteries, and th...
In response to the murder of Jain monk Aacharya Kaamakumar Nandi, protests erupted across Karnataka, leading to the detention and confession of two individuals involved in the crime. Jain organizations put forward four demands to the government, which included police protection for pilgrims on foot, the establishment of a Jain Corporation for community welfare, and security for Jain monasteries.
After receiving assurances from the government, Jain monks ended their hunger strike. Home Minister G Parameshwar visited Jain ashrams to assure the community of their safety, but the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticized the government’s handling of the case, suggesting that money may have played a role in the murder.
Aacharya Kaamakumar Nandi, a Jain monk from Hirekodi Jain Aashram in Belagavi district, was found murdered, triggering protests in several cities across the state. Police discovered the dismembered body of the monk in Hirekodi village on Saturday, two days after he was last seen leaving his ashram. One primary suspect was detained on the same day, and two additional arrests were made, with all three individuals providing criminal confessions. On Monday, Jain communities from north Karnataka and south Maharashtra demonstrated against the murder, demanding the death penalty for the perpetrator.
Jain organizations presented a set of demands to the state government, which included police protection during the monks’ foot pilgrimage, security for their accommodation, safeguarding Jain monasteries, and the establishment of a Jain Corporation or Board for community welfare. Hundreds of Jain monks from Karnataka and Maharashtra had initiated an indefinite hunger strike to protest the murder in the Hirekodi area of Chikkodi town. However, they decided to end their strike after receiving assurances from the government.
During the hunger strike, Home Minister G Parameshwar visited Jain ashrams in Varur (Hubballi), Bastwad, and Chikkodi, assuring the monks of their safety and urging them to end their protest. The suspects in the murder have been apprehended, and the investigation is ongoing. Parameshwar promised security for monasteries, monks, and the peace-loving Jain community. He visited the Aashram of the Aacharya Kaamakumar Nandi Charitable Trust to console the grieving devotees, assuring them that the government would support their needs.
Parameshwar strongly criticized the BJP for politicizing the murder case, rejecting their call for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry. He praised the Belagavi Police for their prompt action in apprehending the suspects within a few hours of the incident. Parameshwar emphasized the government’s responsibility to protect religious leaders and affirmed that the demands put forth by the Jain community would be seriously considered.
Regarding the Jain Corporation or Board, Parameshwar stated that the government would have made an announcement had it been introduced before the budget. He pledged to discuss the matter with the chief minister and the education minister to address the monks’ preference to stay at educational institutions during their foot pilgrimage. Parameshwar assured that the government would consider all four demands made by the Jain community. He appealed to the opposition not to politicize the matter and emphasized the government’s commitment to preventing such crimes in the future.
However, the BJP, represented by former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai and Savadi, criticized the Congress government over the murder case. Savadi suggested that the murder might have been part of a covert plan by a terrorist group to incite religious tensions and tarnish the country’s reputation abroad.
Although the detained suspects have confessed to the crime, the home ministry has kept the investigation open due to suspicions that financial motives were involved in the murder.