RSS worker Rudresh’s murder has once again highlighted how the could fall prey to communal unrest. With the arrest of a PFI leader and two others, doubts are being raised on the possible political motives behind the crime. The inevitable question arises: Are these calculated attempts to disturb communal harmony? Experts believe that the motive behind such incidents and the fact that they are happening frequently is frightening and worrisome as it disrupts peace in the city.
Though the arrest of the alleged killers of the RSS worker R Rudresh - Asim Sharief of the Popular Front of India (PFI) on November 2 and his alleged accomplices - Mohammed Sadiq alias Mohammed Mazar, 35, a resident of J. C. Nagar, who owns a mechanic shop in Shivajinagar, Mohammed Mujee bullah alias Moula alias Mujeeb, 44, a resident of R. T. Nagar, Waseem Ahmed, 30, of Austin Town, and Irfan Pasha, 30, of Govindapura near K. G. Halli on October 27 is the result of "good core policing at ground zero," the City police have yet to come to terms with the alleged "communally and politically motivated killing of a locally prominent RSS worker in the heart of the City," said an officer on condition of anonymity.
The investigation into the alleged conspiracy theory; of doing away with "second tier" RSS workers in non-BJP ruled states to "instill fear" will take the Central Crime Branch of the City police a very long time and may require partnership with Central police agencies like the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and police from other states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, which have witnessed killings of similar nature in the last couple of years.
Even before the arrests were made, Police Commissioner N.S. Megharikh, who belongs to the old school of thought and believes that policing at ground level, is the backbone of good policing had sensed that the killers were "local" people.
"Shivajinagar has always been communally sensitive along with the adjoining areas K.G. Halli and D.J. Halli. After the Babri Masjid demolition in December, 1992 Shivajinagar was shown as the fourth most communally sensitive area in the country. The post Babri communal riots in Shivajinagar had claimed 10 lives and injured 72 people," said the retired deputy commissioner, Intelligence V.S. D'sourza, who was posted as circle inspector, Commercial Street soon after the riots on the orders of the then commissioner Chandu Lal, who had instructed D'souza to go there as a "missionary," recalled the former Intelligence chief (City).
"Nothing has changed in the area. In fact, the sensitivity has increased manifold. It is difficult to monitor and maintain law and order because of the sheer numbers. The police have to work very closely with the people to maintain peace and communal harmony. The only factor, which helps the police, is the fact that 95 per cent of the population in Shivajinagar area survives on daily wages. While the regional subtext is communally volatile; the need for day to day survival saves the face," said a serving senior police officer.
Police on the vigil against backlash after murder
Since his cold blooded murder on October 16 in the heart of the City allegedly by two bike borne assailants - Mohammed Sadiq alias Mazar and Waseem Ahmed along with three other accused, posters of the victim - RSS worker R Rudresh have dangerously started multiplying in the eastern side of City's landscape and the police do not completely rule out a backlash.
"It is possible that some misguided elements take law into their hands in the name of justice for Rudresh. Chances of a backlash were higher in the 48 hours after the murder, but the timely police deployment and bundobast helped. The police are keeping a close watch to prevent any breakdown of law and order machinery in Bengaluru," said an officer on condition of anonymity. The arrests of the alleged accused in the murder have also helped assuage frayed sentiments and cool down simmering communal tension in people, he added.
The constabulary once again had saved the day for the police top brass in cracking this rather difficult murder case, said another officer on condition of anonymity. "The constables in the jurisdictional police stations were summoned to the Commissioner's office and given the CCTV footage of the crime scene and asked to look for the suspects. They got them," he added.
Mastermind Sharief had fled city fearing arrest
Asim Sharief, the alleged mastermind behind the murder of RSS worker Rudresh, is the Bengaluru District President of the Popular Front of India. He is a resident of S.K. Garden in J.C. Nagar and was running a paint and hardware shop in Benson Town.
According to the police, Sharief had planned the murder of Rudresh. After the police arrested the four accused in connection with the case on October 26, Sharief went absconding fearing arrest. “He was moving around in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. When he returned to the city on Wednesday, we got a tip off. A team swung into action and he was nabbed at Peenya in the evening,” an official said.
It is said that interrogation of the four arrested accused - Mohammed Sadiq alias Mohammed Mazar, Mohammed Mujeebullah alias Moula alias Mujeeb, Waseem Ahmed and Irfan Pasha - had revealed the involvement of Sharief in the murder.
“According to their statement, Sharief had instructed them to kill at least two, but after killing Rudresh, the assailants could not attack others, as a crowd had gathered. Based on their statement, a constant watch was kept on PFI activities and at Sharief’s house,” the official added.
Sharief was said to be a religious fundamentalist and hated other communities. “He was actively involved in the activities of the PFI and the organisation had given him a key post. When there were reports of PFI’s involvement in the murder, he had initially deci ded to leave the city. But since no arrests were carried out, he chose to stay in the city, as he feared that if he absconds he would draw police attention. He left the city only after the four others were arrested,” the police said. The police produced Sharief before a magistrate on Wednesday night and took him to police custody till November 16.
Guest Column: Rising intolerance affecting public life, says Prof. G.K. Karanth
Professor (Rtd), Centre for Study of Social Change and Development ISEC, Bengaluru
In his latest book Democrats and Dissenters, Ramachandra Guha deliberates on a growing intolerance of the Indian population - especially in public life.
This is not something we can be proud of, as we used to for our ability to remain united despite diversity.
The latest evidence of this intolerance is the killing of a RSS activist in Bengaluru. Targeting an individual or a group of people professing a set of ideas or faith is nothing new, but what is frightening that it has become very frequent and even a peaceful city like Bengaluru has been affected.
Apart from intolerance, such killings also show the gradual disappearance of a sense of horror in taking the life of another person - be it an enemy or someone opposed to one's own convictions. It has in fact now become a passion and almost everyone seems to be affected by it. Hence most of us now hardly have any patience to tolerate or understand a divergent viewpoint.
Often, business rivalries - including the lives of those involved - are settled under the pretext of a battle for an ideology. It is a pity that noble thoughts become a pawn in the larger games that people play. Sadly, knives and guns have replaced books and pen and the public no longer feels ashamed or shocked.
Darshaniks preaching the ideas that are unfortunately now in conflict with those of others need to engage themselves in stitching new clothes for modern emperors and be bold enough to tell them that nothing is concealed!...