How BJP and mainstream media collectively twisted the facts in journalist arrest case

Shaastra Bhat Urimajalu | coastaldigest.com
November 15,2018

Newsroom, Nov 15: The mainstream media in Karnataka has once again toed the Sangh Parivar line and showed its unwavering loyalty and unconditional allegiance to the self-proclaimed saviours of Hindutva by unhesitatingly twisting the facts in the case of arrest of a Kannada journalist, who had allegedly made offensive remarks against Prophet Muhammad at an event in communally sensitive Kodagu district earlier this month.

Santosh Thammaiah, whose articles often appear in Hosa Digantha and other right-leaning Kannada news papers and magazines, was arrested by the police last Monday night when he had visited his in-law’s residence in Madhugiri in Tumakuru district under Indian Penal Code section 295(A) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings). The very next day he was released on conditional bail.

The arrest came a week after a complaint was lodged against him by Askar KV, a resident of Siddapura in Kodagu district on November 6 against Mr Thammaiah, who had delivered an inflammatory speech on November 5 at an “illegal” event organised by Prajna Kaveri, a Hindutva group at Gonikoppa in Kodagu district. According to police, the organisers had not even obtained permission for the event.

The hate speech

In his address, Mr Thammaiah had reportedly said the tenets preached by the Prophet Muhammad in Arabia centuries ago were full of intolerance and selfishness. He went on to claim that Tipu Sultan became the first terrorist of India by following the teachings of the Prophet. BJP activists had widely circulated the media reports of his provocative speech. The complainant also alleged Mr Thammaiah hurt the sentiments of Hindus as well by comparing Mir Sadiq (a minister who betrayed Tipu Sultan during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War) to Sri Krishna.

The complainant had expressed concern that such speech can lead to unrest and disrupt the peace in the region. The complainant also said that Mr Thammaiah’s offensive remarks were aimed at creating unrest between Hindus and Muslims.  Even though the police had initially ignored the complaint, they filed the first information report (FIR) after protest by local Muslims.

BJP’s misleading campaign

Within hours of Thimmaiah’s arrest, the social media team of BJP launched a campaign claiming that a journalist, who opposed Tipu Jayanti celebration by the Karnataka government, was arrested as part of chief minister H D Kumaraswamy’s Muslim appeasement policy.

Journalist-turned-politician Pratap Simha, who is also the MP from Mysuru-Kodagu constituency, was quick to denounce the arrest. “You timid govt, arrested my dear friend Santhosh Thammaiah. We vl fight it out (sic),” he tweeted. “Santosh Thammaiah who spoke about the brutalities against Hindus by Tyrant Tippu Sultan has been arrested by the Communal Government in Karnataka... (sic),” tweeted CT Ravi, Karnataka BJP general secretary and Chikkamagaluru MLA. “Arrest of Thammaiah is a sledge-hammer blow on the freedom of the press,” claimed Aravinda Limbavali, another senior BJP leader. “Santhosh Thammaiah, a writer with nationalist leaning arrested by coward Karnataka Police for speaking against Tippu Jayanthi .. We will fight tooth & nail against this cowardice act(sic),” tweeted RSS leader B L Santhosh.

On the other hand, the activists of BJP, Vishwa Hindu Parishat, Bajrang Dal and Hindu Jagarana Vedike staged a protest in Madikeri on Wednesday and also called for a Kodagu bandh between 12 noon and 1 pm (lunch hour bandh?), which evoked poor response.

The role of media

While official mouthpieces of Sangh Parivar brazenly justified the provocative remarks by the journalist, other news papers and television channels that often proclaim their ‘impartial and neutral stance’ cannily hid his abusive statements and lied to people that he was arrested for opposing Tipu Jayanti organised by the Karnataka state government!

Leading English dailies such as The Hindu, The Times of India, The New Indian Express apparently refrained from disclosing the real reason behind the arrest of Mr Thammaiah and highlighted the BJP’s claim that he was “arrested for speaking against the celebration of Tipu Jayanti”.

The Press Trust of India, a prominent national news agency claimed that Mr Thammaiah was arrested for his “speech against the recent Tipu Jayanti celebrations”, while the official website of the Times Now directly claimed that he was arrested for “opposing Tipu Jayanti” and underscored a BJP’s leader's claim that “Hindus are under attack”.

The following is the copy of First Information Report (FIR) filed by the police

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BSY pays tributes to Kargil martyrs, says his govt committed to working for soldiers' welfare

News Network
July 26,2020

Bengaluru, Jul 26: Paying tributes to the martyrs of Kargil war on its 21st anniversary, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Sunday said his government always stood by the soldiers and families of those who laid down their lives to protect the borders of the country.

"The government is always committed to the welfare of the soldiers. Karnataka has formed a separate department for the welfare of the soldiers and their families. We always stand with the families of the martyred soldiers," he said. He was addressing soldiers after paying tributes to the martyrs of the Kargil war at an official function organised on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas at the National Military Memorial Park in the city by the Sainik Welfare and Resettlement Department under the state Home Department. 

Yediyurappa described as a symbol of India's valour and sacrifices the Kargil Vijay Diwas, observed to commemorate its victory over Pakistan in the war that ended on July 26, 1999 with recapture of the territory in Kargil. He said the state government has given due compensation to the families of the Kargil martyrs and the soldiers who were injured.

Recalling the conflict, Yediyurappa said Pakistan had set its eyes on grabbing the vast terrains of Kargil and Drass sector in Jammu and Kashmir but the Indian soldiers successfully fought a deadly battle at a height of 17,000 feet where the temperature goes up to minus 30 degrees celsius.

"The sacrifices of our soldiers will remain etched in our memories forever. The tale of the 527 soldiers, who sacrificed their lives to save our country, is a constant source of inspiration for our youth," the Chief Minister said. He also noted Karnataka's contributions to the Indian army and said the state had given two Generals, one Field Marshall, many army officers and innumerable soldiers to protect the country's borders. 

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Dist admin mulls common burial ground for covid victims on the outskirts of Mangaluru city

coastaldigest.com news network
July 18,2020

Mangaluru, July 18: The Dakshina Kannada district administration is likely to earmark a common burial ground in the wake of growing resistance from residents of various localities in Mangaluru against burial of Covid-19 victims in their vicinity.

Recently, following protests by residents on Bolar, the body of a Covid-19 victim remained in the ambulance for hours together. The residents refused to allow the victim to be laid to rest at a burial ground attached to a mosque. The victim, who had been a resident of Idya in Surathkal, was subsequently laid to rest after DC’s intervention.

In a bid to avoid such instances in the future, the district administration has identified a burial ground on the outskirts of Mangaluru. 

Former minister and incumbent Mangaluru MLA UT Khader said that he had discussed the problem at length with the officials of the Dakshina Kannada district administration, and had suggested they look for a relatively isolated space on the outskirts of Mangaluru city in order to avoid confrontation with the public.

“A parcel of land at Badaga Yekkuru, some 20km from the city has been identified as being suitable for the burial ground, but the district administration is yet to take a final decision,” Khader said.

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Bengaluru: 3 killed in police firing after Cong MLA’s house attacked over FB post; 110 arrested

coastaldigest.com news network
August 12,2020

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Bengaluru, Aug 12: Three people lost their lives and a few others sustained injuries after police opened fire at a mob in KG Halli in East Bengaluru in the violence that erupted over an offensive post on a social media platform. Several policemen were also injured as mobsters pelted stones at them.

Curfew has been imposed in Banaswadi Police Sub-Division. The police opened fire after an irate mob on Tuesday night attacked the house of Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivasamurthy after one of his relatives posted a defamatory posted defamatory message on Facebook targeting a particular religion.

The mob comprising over 100 people also torched about 15 vehicles, besides pelting stones at the MLA's house and other adjoining houses in Kaval Byrasandra.

Armed with sticks, iron rods, sharp metal objects and other weapons, the protestors barged into the house of the MLA and indulged in vandalism. The mob even attacked those who were capturing the violent incident on their phone cameras. The cameras and mobiles were snatched and were damaged completely according to eyewitnesses.

The protesters even attacked the vehicle of North-East Division Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Bheemashankar Guled. Trying to take control of the situation, the DCP visited the spot and he was stopped by the protesters in front of the police station gate and began pelting stones. Even as the police personnel were escorting the DCP to a safe location, the mob attacked the car and damaged it. They also assaulted the driver of the vehicle.

The mob took control of the area and sealed five to six crosses barring access to police personnel and fire and emergency service personnel.

Following the incident, over 600 people stormed the KG Halli police station venting their anger and demanding justice. The incident which occurred at around 9:00 pm went out of control in less than an hour after the mob began to torch the vehicles and vandalise the houses nearby. Gripped by panic, the residents staying in surrounding areas were seen leaving houses along with kids and women to other areas.

Trying to control the situation and disperse the crowd, the police fired in the air in front of the KG Halli police station. While two people died on the spot, another person succumbed to his injuries later. Many other injured are undergoing treatment at hospitals.

According to sources, the mob was reportedly angered over a derogatory Facebook post on religion, alleged to have been posted by MLA's brother-in-law. A few others also revealed that the post was put up by the MLA's personal assistant.

Meanwhile, the police have arrested one Naveen in connection with the post. The police also have arrested around 110 people in connection with the violence.

Appeal for peace

In the meantime, MLA Akhanda Srinivasamurthy released a video where he said, "I appeal to all my Muslim brethren to maintain peace and not to get carried away by the rumours and miscreants' words. Be it a Hindu or Muslim, we all are equal. Whoever it may be trying to disrupt the harmony, they will be dealt with seriously and will be punished by the police as per the law. But let us not resort to this violence and I request all of you to keep calm."

Following the violent protests, Chamarajpet MLA BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan also rushed to the spot and visited KG Halli police station. According to sources, Police Commissioner Kamal Pant also rushed to the spot.

"The government will take action against those who are responsible behind the attack. Resorting to violence, torching of vehicles is against the law and not a solution to any problem. Any issue can be legally pursued and taken to a logical end. I have already directed the police commissioner to visit the spot and take control of the situation," said Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai.

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