Karnataka to hand over probe into youngster’s death to CBI
Nineteen-year-old Paresh Mesta’s death sparked tensions in the Uttara Kannada district after the BJP termed it as an incident of communal violence.karnataka Updated: Dec 13, 2017 23:29 IST
The Karnataka government on Wednesday decided to hand over the probe into the death of a teenager, whose body was found in Shetty Lake at Honnavar five days ago, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in keeping with his father’s wishes.
Nineteen-year-old Paresh Mesta’s death sparked tensions in the Uttara Kannada district after the BJP termed it as an incident of communal violence. Hindutva activists even set the official car of inspector general (western range) Hemant Nimbalkar afire in Kumta town on Monday.
The BJP has been at the forefront of agitations demanding a fair probe into the incident. Union minister Anantkumar Hegde participated in a protest march on December 8, the day Paresh’s body was recovered. Party MP Shobha Karandlaje also claimed that the teenager was mutilated and burnt because he was a member of a Hindutva group.
Paresh’s father, Kamalakar, told reporters on Wednesday that he strongly suspected the role of some Muslim youngsters from the locality in the murder. He, however, denied that his son was part of any Hindutva organisation.
“Paresh only volunteered at a temple here,” Kamalakar said, adding that he – nevertheless – has no faith in the police’s ability or inclination to find the killers.
State home minister Ramalinga Reddy said the government decided to hand over the probe to the CBI not only to honour the father’s wishes but also to show that it has nothing to hide. “The BJP is playing politics over the tragic death of a youngster. If the state police investigate it, they will say we have hushed it up. So, we want the CBI to probe the case,” he said.
Reddy said it was part of the BJP’s strategy to politicise deaths and then go silent when investigations reveal no blame on the government’s part. “Look at the case of (IAS officer) DK Ravi. The BJP blamed the government but, eventually, even the CBI concluded that he had ended his own life,” the minister said.
The BJP, meanwhile, continued to accuse the government of attempting to scuttle the investigation. It raised objections to a police report that quoted forensic experts as saying that the youngster’s body was not mutilated and burnt (as claimed by the BJP).
Addressing a press conference, Karandlaje claimed that the doctor who answered police queries after conducting the autopsy could not be contacted. “I have been trying to contact him, but his phone is switched off. This shows that the government is trying to hush up the case,” she said.
The parliamentarian said she feared that the government may be trying to destroy evidence on the pretext of conducting post-mortem examinations.