Harsha murder case: Kin accuse home min of inaction, he refutes allegations

Published on Jul 09, 2022 12:39 AM IST

A few days ago, videos of the three murder suspects speaking to their families and friends went viral on the social media.

The 26-year-old Bajrang Dal supporter Harsha was allegedly murdered in Shivamogga (ANI)
The 26-year-old Bajrang Dal supporter Harsha was allegedly murdered in Shivamogga (ANI)
By, Bengaluru

Slain Bajrang Dal member Harsha’s sister Ashwini on Friday accused home minister Araga Jnanendra of ignoring her family and raising his voice when she tried to speak to him at a BJP office in Bengaluru on Thursday.

Ashwini approached the minister seeking action against Bengaluru Central Prison officials after it came to light that the three accused in the murder case had access to mobile phones inside the high-security jail.

The 26-year-old Harsha was fatally stabbed on the night of February 20 in Bharti Nagar locality of communally sensitive Shivamogga town. His killing came during a time of heightened communal tension across the state due to a controversy over barring Muslim students from wearing hijab in educational institutions.

A few days ago, videos of the three murder suspects speaking to their families and friends went viral on the social media.

In a video of an interaction between Jnanendra and Ashwini that has since gone viral, Ashwini can be seen speaking to the minister at the BJP office in Malleshwaram and asking whether her family will get justice, as reports of the special treatment to the accused are emerging.

Jnanendra can be heard in the video saying, “Our whole team and the state government are standing in support of your family. How can you accuse us of not serving justice?” As the minister ends his statement, Ashwini says, “I’m very pleased by the way you and your department have treated me and family sir. Thank you so much. Is asking justice a sin? They are trying to shut me up.”

As she leaves the building, a person is seen rushing toward her and requesting her to calm down. The person also says an appointment will be fixed with the home minister to discuss the matter. Ashwini refuses the offer, saying, “No problem, sir, I don’t want an appointment. Thank you so much. When the sister of Harsha herself is requesting justice, the minister is trying to raise his voice. What kind of treatment is this?”

On Friday, Ashwini said she had approached the home minister to demand that the officers involved in the case should be suspended and not merely transferred. “When the murder took place, they (ministers) had come to our house and told us they would do everything in their power to get us justice. But when we are seeking justice, this is how they behave with us,” she told the media.

Justifying his stance, Jnanendra said action has been taken against erring jail staff. “We have done everything, including the transfer of officers to booking cases against those found using mobile phones. We are with the (Harsha) family, but there is a limit to how much I can answer to the family as a home minister. There is no question of me avoiding the family,” said the minister.

Six officials, including the chief superintendent of prisons, have been transferred out of the Bengaluru Central Prison, officials said.

Responding to the video of the accused making video calls, Karnataka prisons department officials said a departmental inquiry has been ordered into the matter.

Alok Mohan, director general of police (prison), confirmed that many accused, including those arrested in the Harsha murder case, were found using mobile phones inside their barracks during a surprise check. “In March, the Prisons Act was amended, saying those possessing and using mobile phones inside prisons will be booked and courts can imprison them for up to five years. We will take action against them under these provisions also,” said Mohan.

Meanwhile, sleuths from Parappana Agrahara police station registered a case against nine suspects, including three from the Harsha murder case, on a complaint filed by PS Ramesh, newly appointed chief superintendent of prisons, under the Karnataka Prisons (Amendment) Act, 2022.

“A surprise check was carried out on July 3 against 900 undertrials and 330 prisoners from the high-security zone. During the raid, it was found that the inmates had more than 80,000 in cash, one memory card each, a SIM card and a pen drive besides four knives,” Ramesh said in a statement.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Arun Dev is an Assistant Editor with the Karnataka bureau of Hindustan Times. A journalist for over 10 years, he has written extensively on crime and politics.

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