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After Rumours and Riots, Karnataka Govt to Recommend CBI Probe Into 19-year-old's Death

On Monday and Tuesday, Kumta and Sirsi taluks of the state witnessed large-scale violence after the bloated and dis-coloured body of Paresh Mesta, who had been missing following communal clashes, was found in a lake on December 8, 2017.

Deepa Balakrishnan | CNN-News18deepab18

Updated:December 13, 2017, 10:00 PM IST
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After Rumours and Riots, Karnataka Govt to Recommend CBI Probe Into 19-year-old's Death
Karnataka BJP has blamed the Popular Front of India (PFI) for Paresh Mesta's death.
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Bengaluru: The Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government on Wednesday decided to hand over the case of 'unnatural death' of a 19-year-old boy in Honnavar to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the incident led to riots in the coastal region of the state.

On Monday and Tuesday, Kumta and Sirsi taluks of the state witnessed large-scale violence after the bloated and dis-coloured body of Paresh Mesta, who had been missing following communal clashes, was found in a lake on December 8, 2017.

Things went out of control after the state BJP right-wing organisations held demonstrations and gave bandh calls as a mark of protest against Meshta's death. Incidents of stone-pelting, buses being stopped, shops closed and even burning of a police car were reported in the state.


Karnataka's Honnavar witnessed violence on Wednesday night. (Photo: CNN-News18)

"We decided to hand over the case to the CBI as we felt the BJP was only trying to use this death for political benefit. Assuming it is murder, we do not want to shield anyone nor do we want to be blamed for such a thing," Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy told News18.

He said the BJP is not sharing in the grief of the family and merely wants to make it a communal issue ahead of elections next year.

However, demanding a NIA probe, the state BJP blamed the Popular Front of India (PFI) for Mesta's death. On December 9, local BJP leaders, including Karandlaje, participated in the last rites of Meshta and claimed that he was a party worker.

"PFI is directly responsible for the violence. It is like ISIS. Why is BJP being blamed for the riots?" Udupi-Chikkamagaluru MP Shobha Karandlaje asked at a press conference while reiterating that Meshta was a fisherman who could swim in oceans and there was no chance of drowning in the lake.

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Demanding a NIA probe, Karnataka BJP blamed the Popular Front of India (PFI) for Mesta's death. (Photo: CNN-News18)

Mesta's father Kamalakar on Wednesday clarified that his son was not a member of any organisation. Speaking to the media he said, "We are Hindus, yes, but my son was not a member of any Sangha or organisation."

All of this, however, was debunked by the doctor in-charge of the post-mortem. According to the doctor, there were no injury marks, no pin or nail-pricks on the boy's body as was alleged.

The doctor's report only said Meshta had two tattoos on his wrist – a photo of Shivaji and the word 'Maratha' inscribed on his wrist – both of which were intact.

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Post-mortem report of Paresh Mesta (Photo: CNN-News18)

In fact, the blackening or discolouring was attributed only to putrefaction – as the body was in water for many hours – which raises the question of whether it was murder or accident or suicide. A final post-mortem report could take 15 days.

The Karnataka Police, which believe the violence was fanned by rumours on social media, will soon launch a formal probe into the incident. WhatsApp forwards and Twitter feeds have details of gruesome mutilation and murder of this 'RSS worker' which spread rage among many. Messages claimed that Meshta was mutilated, castrated, hot oil poured over him and tattoo marks of Shivaji and Maratha on his wrist were destroyed before he was thrown into the lake.

Following the violence, only one person has been arrested for spreading rumours. "Forty-three-year-old Thimmappa Parameshvar Nayak, who works as a physical education teacher of a local school, was arrested for spreading fake news through WhatsApp," the police said.
| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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