Karnataka: Sri Ram Sene’s turbulent past comes back under the lens after a hate crime | Latest India News
Bengaluru: More than nine months have passed since the Special Investigation Team (SIT) tracked down assassins involved in the murder of journalist-turned-activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru.
Until June 1, police had arrested several accused of the murder plot, including the mastermind – Amol Kale. But the man who pulled Lankesh’s trigger was still on the run.
The suspects in custody have remained silent on the identity of the gunman even after weeks of questioning. Finally, a breakthrough occurred in the form of a password in Kale’s log – builder. One of the suspects eventually told police that it was the builder (bodybuilder) who pulled the trigger, but he did not know his name.
Armed with a forensic report that showed the gunman to be around 5.1 feet tall, an SIT team reached the town of Sindagi in Bijapur, northern Karnataka, on the basis of a phone number. laptop found next to the code name “manufacturer”. They organized an identity parade of people with a criminal past. Among them was a muscular man, 5.2 feet tall. His photo was returned to SIT and a suspect in custody confirmed that it was the shooter.
On the morning of June 11, the team arrested Parashuram Waghmore, the man who shot Lankesh.
SIT’s investigation into the plot revealed that the union that murdered Lankesh was recruiting young men from various right-wing organizations, who had run into trouble with the law in the past. Waghmore was recruited from Sri Rama Sene.
Meanwhile in the organization, in 2012, Waghmore and his associates hoisted a Pakistani flag in front of tahsildar’s office in Sindagi on January 1. They alleged that this was done by the Muslim community and that there were communal tensions in the city. He was later acquitted by a lower court citing errors and technical errors in the indictment.
Sri Ram Sene was founded in the late 1960s by Kalki Maharaj, the right-hand man of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray, and a former member of Bajrang Dal and Vishva Hindu Parishad. In Karnataka, controversial right-wing activist Pramod Muthalik held the most senior position in the organization, and over the years she rose to infamous fame.
The Singadi incident was not the first time Sri Rama Sene had been entered in the records of the Karnataka police. On January 24, 2009, a group of 40 Sene activists broke into a pub called “Amnesia – The Lounge” and allegedly ransacked a group of young women and men, claiming the women were violating traditional Indian values. Two of the women were hospitalized.
In the latest incident on Thursday, police arrested members of a “Sri Ram Sene Hindustan” group for the murder and beheading of a 24-year-old Muslim who was in a relationship with a Hindu girl. According to the police, Sri Ram Sene Hindustan ‘is an offshoot of Sri Ram Sene led by Muthalik.
A senior officer who was part of the investigation into Gauri Lankesh pointed out that the rise of right-wing Hindu organizations like Sri Rama Sene is a matter of concern. “During Gauri Lankesh’s investigation, we learned that around 22 young people in Karnataka have been trained in the use of firearms in order to be able to carry out killings of intellectuals. All of them were recruited from organizations like Sri Rama Sena. It is a dangerous trend. These right-wing organizations often act with impunity throughout the state, which attracts a lot of young people, ”said a senior police official who declined to be named.
“Even though member organizations like Sri Rama Sene are involved in crimes, like the murder of Gauri Lankesh (Bengaluru, 2017), intentionally creating community tensions (Bijpiur, 2012), the attack on a pub (Mangaluru 2012) and now the murder of this young man (Belagavi 2021). There is no proposal to ban the organization. In fact, in the Gauri Lankesh case, the government did not even appeal when the petition was filed to drop the organized crime charges against some of the defendants, ”the officer added.
According to another officer, the organization’s criminal past, from moral police to organized murder, is worrying. “Moral policing is a big problem in the coastal regions and to some extent also in northern Karnataka. They are often dismissed as vigilantes but these incidents show why the trend is alarming, ”said a non-commissioned ADGP officer who was stationed in the coastal region of Karnataka.
According to Karnataka Communal Harmony records, there have been 1,288 cases of community violence including moral policing, cattle vigilance and hate speech since 2010 in Karnataka coast alone. Of this number, 322 cases were moral policing by vigilantes.
According to Vidya Dinker, a Mangaluru-based activist who fights the moral police known as the “jihad of love,” a term used by some Hindu groups to describe the relationship between Muslim men and Hindu women, arrived in the country. Karnataka long before it became familiar across the country. . “The Hindu-Muslim divide has often been used (by political / religious groups) to convince people that there has been an attempt to steal girls to convert them. This thought has been institutionalized over time and it now translates into such brutal killings, ”she said.
Sri Ram Sene Hindustan leader Ramakant Konduskar had previously distanced himself from the alleged murder, saying the members had been targeted for “being Hindutva workers”. “Our members do not engage in murder. We do charitable work. The men who were arrested acted alone, ”he said on Friday.