Conceding a BJP demand, the Karnataka government on Wednesday decided to hand over to CBI the case relating to the mysterious death of a youth, which has sparked violence in coastal Uttara Kannada district.
“The state government has decided to hand over Paresh Kamalakar Mesta's mysterious death case to Central Bureau of Investigation," state Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy told PTI here, as the BJP upped the ante on the issue.
“Maintaining that Mesta was a Hindu activist and had been 'killed' by "Jihadi elements", the BJP has demanded an investigation by the CBI or the National Investigation Agency.
Hitting out at BJP, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had accused it of using the incident for "political gains."
Mesta (19), hailing from the fisherman community, was reported missing on December 6 before his body was found near a lake in Honnavar in Uttara Kannada district two days later.
Sirsi and Kumata towns in the district have been hit by violence since then.
Mesta's family and local residents alleged he was abducted and killed amid reports that the body bore marks of attack by sharp objects.
Police, however, have rejected the claims, citing a report by doctors, pending a postmortem examination.
Earlier today, senior BJP leader Shobha Karandlaje claimed the involvement of Muslim outfit Popular Front of India Mesta's death as she pressed for CBI or NIA probe.
"Investigations have shown the involvement of PFI behind the murder of RSS worker Rudresh (early this year) and other leaders in Karnataka and Kerala. Why is the government soft On PFI and not banning it" she asked.
PFI had earlier rejected the BJP charge pinning the blame on it for the killings of Hindu activists.
Karandlaje dismissed Reddy's charges that she and other firebrand BJP leaders were responsible for the riotous situation in the coastal belt.
To a query, Reddy said, "We do not want to indulge in political mud-slinging, and the government is not shielding anyone in this case, and hence we thought it fit to hand over the case to CBI."
Charging the BJP with playing politics over Mesta's death in poll-bound Karnataka, where assembly elections are due early next year, he said the victim did not belong to any political party.
"Mesta's father, in a TV interview yesterday, had denied that his son belonged to any political party. This is just in contrast to BJP allegations that Mesta belonged to a Hindu outfit," he said.
The death of Mesta had given a fresh ammunition to the BJP which has been targeting the Siddaramaiah government in recent months, saying that nearly 15 activists of the Sangh Parivar and pro-Hindu outfits have been killed in coastal Karnataka and elsewhere.