Image Source: NDTV
Udupi: With the Karnataka State Legislative Assembly elections just a week away, closets are being searched and graves are being dug up in search of skeletons (metaphorically speaking). One such grave digging adventure by sundry news channels has brought back a previously exposed skeleton.
A list of 23 RSS and Hindutva activists that the BJP claims were murdered by jihadi forces during the Congress party's five year rule in Karnataka, has âbeen revived, but only to embarrass the principal opposition in Karnataka, the BJP.
The list had turned out to be a gaffe and an embarrassment to BJP MP Shobha Karandalaje as in the list penned by her to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, two of the names mentioned were of those who died of other causes and... one was still alive!
It all started with a letter written by MP Karandlaje to the Union Home Minister pleading with him to initiate an NIA probe into the murder of RSS activist Sharath Madiwal. Attached to the letter was a list of 23 names of activists who were allegedly murdered for political gain. First on the list was Ashok Poojary, a young and healthy individual from a small village in Udupi. According to the letter, he was killed on September 20, 2015 after a brutal attack. To the BJP's credit, Poojary was indeed attacked but, he survived and went on with his life. The police chargesheet identified three of his attackers as Mushtafa, 28, Hanif, 36, and Kabeer, 28.
According to reports, Ashok Poojary was a member of Bajrang Dal but was never very active in the organisation. He made a living by playing instruments in music bands engaged for temple events. Indeed on the day he was attacked he was returning from playing the drums at a wedding.
NDTV met Ashok Poojary in his village in Udupi district. He says he was attacked in 2015 by six men riding on three motorbikes because they believed he worked with Hindutva organisations. He told NDTV, that the attackers recognized him because he was wearing a saffron scarf wrapped around his head, while returning from work. He plays the drums in a wedding band.
"I was in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for 15 days. They thought I was going to die. But then thanks to God, I made it", he said.
After the attack, Poojary was hospitalized for over a month after the incident and was in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for 15 days racking up, reports say a bill of about Rs 8 lakh, he said. Hindutva organisations partly took care of the expenses.
When the list first came out, a shocked Poojary said, “What? Who murdered me? I am still alive!”
Ashok Poojary says he received a call from Shobha Karandlaje, admitting that adding his name on the list was a mistake.
But, the BJP continues to cite the "23 workers killed" figure. "More than 2 dozen of our workers have been killed in Karnataka", Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his campaigning for the elections in the poll bound state.
The ruling Congress in the state has debunked those claims, saying of the 23, 14 deaths had nothing to do with Muslim attackers. The reasons, they found ranged from suicide, to personal enmity.
The District President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Mangaluru, Jagadish Shenava told NDTV that the BJP will not make false claims. "If the names are there, it must be correct", he said.
Some other names featured on the list turned out to be deaths caused by suicide and a family feud, according to reports.
With inputs from NDTV and Deccan Chronicle
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