Bengaluru: The Congress government in Karnataka has amended a police circular that stated cases against "innocent minorities" charged with rioting would be withdrawn and extended the measure to all "innocent people" after coming under fire from various quarters, including the opposition BJP.
Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy on Sunday said the earlier communique, directing police to release innocent minorities, was based on the recommendations of the Rajendra Sachar Committee.
"It will be wrong if only one community's cases are withdrawn. If people from other community too appeal, their cases will also be withdrawn. The previous circular was based on the Sachar Committee's recommendations," he told reporters.
The January 25 circular of the home department directed police commissioners of Mangaluru and Belagavi, and Superintendents of Police to release "innocent minorities" arrested on charges of rioting and other cases.
The move drew sharp criticism from various quarters with the opposition BJP calling it "Muslim appeasement" ahead of the assembly polls. The opposition party also targeted Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.
The BJP tweeted, "In @siddaramaiah's Karnataka, if you are a "Ramesh", you'll be jailed. If you are a "Rafiq", you'll be given bail. #CongBleedsKarnataka #CongKillsHindus."
BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje also attacked the chief minister. “CM Siddaramaiah, why are you not withdrawing cases of innocent Hindu youths? Why only minorities? I request all the police officers in the state, please don’t yield to vote bank politics of this government,” she tweeted.
Besides releasing the amended circular, the department also released data showing that cases against 3,164 accused were withdrawn from 2015 to 2017, of which 2,806 were Hindus and 341 Muslims.
The Congress government had rejected the BJP's charge and said the circular was applicable to all minorities and also involves those arrested during agitations over inter-state water disputes.
The circular was issued by Assistant Inspector General of Police Shivaprakash Devaraju.
Reddy had clarified that the January 25 communique referred to all minorities, including Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs. He had also said that the government brought out such circulars from time to time and this particular one had nothing to do with only Muslims.