Karnataka: After suicide, two cases, many arrests in police crackdown on harassment

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From: Indian Express By: AFP Published at: January 13, 2018
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Karnataka police, especially in the communally sensitive Dakshina Kannada district, have started a crackdown on people accused of harassment of women. This comes days after a 20-year-old college student from Mudigere town in Chikmagalur district committed suicide following harassment and abuse, allegedly by activists of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing, and Bajrang Dal for being close to Muslims. Since her death on January 6, two cases have been filed in Bantwal region of Dakshina Kannada.

The district police on Friday arrested the administrator and member of a Whatsapp group for allegedly harassing a social worker from Bantwal region who had expressed solidarity with Dhanyashree.

The social worker, Bharathi Bolar, filed a complaint with Bantwal Town police on Thursday, alleging that a person identified as Balakrishna had modified images of her Facebook profile to say that she loved Muslims and was circulating these on WhatsApp. Bus driver Balakrishna Poojary (48) and Satish Shetty (30), administrator of the WhatsApp group called ‘Makuri’, were arrested by Bantwal police for circulating the fabricated messages. They have been booked under IPC Sections 354, 504 and 153A. Dakshina Kannada SP Sudheer Kumar Reddy has issued a warning against circulation of messages intended to disturb communal harmony.

In another case, Bantwal rural police have filed an FIR against several suspected members of a Hindutva group for entering the house of a 17-year-old Dalit girl in Meeramajulu village on January 7 and assaulting her and her family members after accusing the girl of being in relationship with a Muslim auto-rickshaw driver. The girl used to take the auto-rickshaw to go to college, according to the complaint filed by the victim and her parents on January 9. After being asked to leave the village, the girl had called the police from her native town, Bagalkot, to inform them about the incident. A local resident identified as K Umesh and six others have been arrested.

On January 6, first-year B.Com student Dhanyashree had committed suicide at her home in Chikamagalur district after allegedly being hounded for several days by activists from Hindutva groups. According to a police complaint filed by Dhanyashree’s mother Saraswathi Suvarna, her daughter committed suicide after Hindutva activists reached their home on January 5 and threatened to defame her.

In a note, Dhanyashree stated that she could not bear the harassment meted out by these activists and their false claims that she was in love with a Muslim boy. The harassment had caused humiliation to her family members, she said.

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