With the death of Abdul Basheer, who used to run a fast food stall in Mangaluru, who was brutally attacked outside his joint by miscreants over a week ago, another tragic cycle of "revenge killings" in Dakshina Kannada district is complete. Or, is it? Basheer was allegedly attacked by some right-wing elements in retaliation for the murder of Deepak Rao, another young man from Mangaluru, who had affiliation with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Both Basheer and Deepak Rao were victims of divisiveness being perpetrated along communal lines in the coastal part of the state. The police have acted quickly and arrested eight persons in all in connection with the two murders.
Though Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts have witnessed communal clashes since the 1990s - Hindutva-promoters consider the region their "strongest" in the country and have been running it as their "laboratory" in the South - these incidents get aggravated ahead of every election. The situation has worsened in the last six months, ever since the killing of Sharat Madiwala, a laundry owner and RSS volunteer, followed by the murder of Ashraf Kalai, an auto driver and office-bearer of the local unit of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). Both the BJP and the ruling Congress have to take the blame for stoking the fire under a communal cauldron with the cynical objective of polarising voters for electoral gains. Instead of reining in rabid Sangh Parivar outfits like the RSS and Bajrang Dal on the one hand, and the Popular Front of India (PFI) and SDPI on the other, the two national parties have been spreading the communal flame, which has begun to singe both Hindu and Muslim communities. It is an unfortunate state of affairs in the two districts which were known for communal harmony among Hindus, Christians and Muslims for centuries and which rank very high in educational status in the state.
There have been suggestions for banning some of the organisations that are instigating violence. That alone may not help as there is every possibility of these groups coming back to operate under new names or going underground. Rather, social and religious leaders of both communities and prominent personalities of the districts should come together to bring about a change of heart among the hot-headed youth on either side, making them realise the consequences of the chain of violence and its debilitating impact on ordinary citizens. The state government should post efficient and experienced police officers in the districts and give them complete freedom to deal with the perpetrators of violence with an iron hand. It's time both Congress and BJP stopped playing with people's emotions and lives and reverted to responsible politics.