Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy on Thursday rejected the opposition BJP’s demand for a National Investigation Agency inquiry into the murder of a “Hindu activist”. “There is no need to entrust the inquiry to the NIA, as police have already arrested four suspects allegedly involved in the murder of Deepak Rao and are investigating the case from all angles,” he told reporters. Reddy was responding to a NIA probe demand by BJP’s state unit leaders, including its MPs BS Yeddyurappa, Shoba Karandlaje, Pralhad Joshi and Naleen Kumar Kateel, who represents Dakshina Kannada district. Rao, 32, a sales executive with a mobile phones distributor at Katipalli in Suratkal town, 20 km from Mangaluru, was allegedly waylaid by the accused and assaulted with a machete on Wednesday when he was going home for lunch.
Dakshina Kannada Superintendent of Police SK Reddy told IANS that the accused were trying to escape in a car after attacking Rao when they were chased and nabbed on the outskirts of Suratkal. Rao was taken to hospital, where doctors declared him dead. The four arrested were identified as Mulky Naushad, Rizwan, Pinky Nawaz and Nirshan. Right wing outfit Bajrang Dal also claimed that Rao was one of its members in the coastal district. “The inquiry into Rao’s alleged murder is being supervised by Additional Director General of Police Kamal Panth. Till the investigation is completed, the unfortunate death of Rao should not be politicised and vitiate the atmosphere,” said the Home Minister.
He also accused the BJP leaders of claiming victims like Rao and others in the past to be its members or belonging to organisations like the Bajrang Dal to polarise the situation in the poll-bound southern state, where elections are due in April. “Our government or party does not support or oppose any particular community. We are working to book those who transgress the law,” asserted Reddy. He also announced Rs 10 lakh compensation to Rao’s family, including Rs 5 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.
Deputy Commissioner S. Sasikanth Senthil said Rs 5 lakh would be paid to the victim’s family by Friday. Security was stepped up and additional forces were deployed in the town to prevent any untoward incident during the funeral procession and last rites of Rao. A day-long shutdown was observed at Mangaluru and Surathkal in protest against Rao’s murder in response to a call by the BJP and Bajrang Dal. Condemning the shocking murder in daylight, Yeddyurappa blamed the Congress and the district in-charge minister Ramanath Rai for Rao’s death and about 20 killings there over the last two years.