CBI proves BJP wrong; exonerates Siddaramaiah
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a closure report on the 2017 death of a Hindu youth, Paresh Mestha, calling it “accidental.” The BJP and Pro-Hindu organisations had alleged that Mestha was killed and his body dumped in a lake during a mob violence in Honnavar.
This was the third sensational crime-turned-political issue Congress veteran Siddaramaiah faced during his tenure as chief minister of Karnataka from 2013 to 2018. The opponent, BJP, had capitalised on these incidents that took place in 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively. And, these became some of the reasons for Siddaramaiah’s loss in the 2018 Assembly elections, which ended with a fractured mandate.
The two other cases included the suicide of IAS officer DK Ravi and the suicide of deputy superintendent of police (DySP) MK Ganapathi.
Two sensational suicides
Ravi, an additional commissioner of commercial tax (enforcement), committed suicide at his official residence on March 16, 2015. It was claimed that the 2009-batch IAS official was murdered for his actions against the real estate and sand mafia. The main allegation was that the Siddaramaiah government was shielding those responsible for Ravi’s death.
The opposition, BJP, was quick to take it up as a political weapon and embarrass the Siddaramaiah government.
A little more than a year later, DySP Ganapathi’s suicide followed. He recorded his final statement in a video before committing suicide on July 7, 2016. He had even given an interview to a local TV station in Madikeri and accused home minister KJ George and two senior IPS officers, Pranab Mohanthy and AM Prasad, of not allowing proper postings.
A local court asked the police to register an FIR against George, which prompted him to resign from his post. The BJP took up this issue as well, and successfully made electoral gains.
The third incident was Mestha’s death. The youth disappeared following mob violence in Honnavar on December 6, 2017. Two days later, his body was found near a lake. The BJP and pro-Hindu organisations alleged that Mestha was killed in the violence and his body was dumped in the lake by his killers.
The BJP further alleged that the Siddaramaiah government was siding with one community. During a protest, pro-Hindu activists torched the IGP’s vehicle. Many political leaders, including Union home minister Amit Shah, visited Mestha’s house, and the BJP turned it into a major election issue.
Siddaramaiah referred cases
When Siddaramaiah was the chief minister, BJP was ruling at the Centre. Yet, he transferred all three cases for CBI investigation, as BJP, the opponent in the state, demanded.
After 20 months of investigation, the CBI filed a B report in the Ravi case and said Ravi had hanged himself for personal reasons.
In Ganapathi’s suicide case, the CBI filed a 262-page report in Madikeri court and sought closure. The CBI stated in the report that Ganapathy’s death was also a case of suicide and that George, Mohanty, and Prakash had nothing to do with it.
Vindication at last
Now, the CBI has filed a B report in a Honnavar court, saying Mestha’s death was accidental. The CBI filed the closure report after investigating the case for five years. The court will pronounce its verdict on November 16.
Siddaramaiah has tweeted the report, adding, “This report is a slap on the face of the Karnataka BJP. If BJP has left any shame left, it should apologize for its slanderous campaign.”