As the much-anticipated inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya approaches, the Karnataka police department has initiated investigations into alleged property destruction and offenses committed by Ram Mandir activists during the fervent movement three decades ago. A specialised team has been formed to scrutinize individuals linked to the 1992 Ram Mandir movement, which witnessed acts of violence and intercommunal conflicts.
According to a recent report by IANS, the police have compiled a list of ‘suspects’ believed to have been involved in incidents related to the Ram Mandir movement. The move comes in the wake of a specific case involving the torching of a minority-owned store in Hubballi on December 5, 1992. In connection with this incident, Srikanth Poojari has been taken into custody by the Hubballi police, becoming the third defendant in the case. The police are actively seeking eight additional defendants, and Poojari has been placed under court supervision.
Hubballi police have extended their investigation, creating a list of 300 ‘suspects’ allegedly connected to communal conflicts between 1992 and 1996, primarily individuals now in their early and late 70s. Many of these ‘accused’ have reportedly left the city, while others hold prominent positions today. The police are deliberating on the potential consequences of filing lawsuits against these individuals, who are believed to have been directed under the Congress government to investigate these cases extensively.
In a noteworthy development, it has been observed that several of the ‘suspects’ from the Ram Janma Bhoomi movement have risen to become well-known BJP politicians. Reports suggest that during the BJP’s rule, cases against these figures were dismissed, leading to heightened tensions.
Hubballi-Dharwad Commissioner Renuka K Sukumar told TNM that it was a usual police procedure and they had been on a drive to clear long pending cases for the last three months.
“We keep doing this across the board whether it is murder or property offences from time to time. We have detected 47 cases over three months. In one such case filed for rioting where the accused had been missing, we arrested the person (Srikanth Poojary) and produced him. We are not reopening the case,” she said. The Commissioner said that the case filed against Poojary in 1992 was declared as a long pending case in 2006. “We are just trying to detect long pending cases. This is not in particular reference to any issue,” she said.
The current actions of the Congress government in reopening these cases have drawn sharp criticism from Hindu organisations. Denouncing the move, they claim that the government’s attempt to investigate decades-old instances is a strategic response to the BJP and Hindu organisations’ door-to-door campaigning against the backdrop of the upcoming Sri Ram Mandir inauguration in Ayodhya.
This development is expected to fuel a significant debate within the state. It is essential to note that Karnataka witnessed major violence in the 1990s, a consequence of Islamist opposition to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement spearheaded by veteran BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani.