Communalising crimes against women: Neha deserves justice and so do Ruksana, Leela, others

Karnataka recently has recorded several cases of men murdering women for rejecting their advances but Neha’s murder was given a communal spin and politicised.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Apr 26, 2024 | 11:07 AMUpdatedApr 27, 2024 | 12:14 AM

Karnataka Crime Women Men Communal Tension Muslim Hindus

In the poignant words of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation, and it is perhaps the most pervasive.”

“Regardless of geographical, cultural, or socioeconomic boundaries, the scourge of violence against women continues to ravage communities, casting a dark shadow over the aspirations of equality, development, and peace,” emphasized Kofi Annan, a co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

These words echo with chilling resonance in the current scenario unfolding in Karnataka, where numerous cases of atrocities against women have surfaced in the past year alone.

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The disturbing trend

In Karnataka, a disturbing trend has emerged, where women are targeted and subjected to brutal acts simply for refusing advances from men or asserting themselves in relationships. However, only selective cases are pursued for political gain.

One such case that captured public attention, recently, was the horrific murder of Neha Hiremath in Hubballi. This grim reality extends far beyond a single headline, with numerous similar incidents occurring throughout the state.

Shockingly, even in the face of such egregious crimes, the response from political leaders and authorities has often been inadequate, with cases being politicized or overlooked entirely on communal lines instead of fighting for the justice of women.

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Politicising Neha’s murder, ‘Love Jihad’ claims

Neha Hiremath, a 24-year-old, was reportedly stabbed to death by her college friend Fayaz K on 18 April.

In no time, political leaders, especially from the opposition parties in Karnataka BJP and JD(S), were quick to not only politicise the murder but also spin a communal angle into it.

A day after the murder was reported, the BJP and its student wing were quick to unleash and promote the communal angle of ‘Love Jihad’, targeting a particular religion for political gain ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Communal colour was given to the crime instead of raising their voices to ensure justice to Neha Hiremath and others, who suffered brutality at the hands of men.

It is not just in Hubballi, the students’ associations staged demonstrations across the state, pointing to “Love Jihad” and demanding the apprehension of the accused.

After this case gained political mileage, Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah not only apologised to Neha’s parents, met them but also handed over the case to CID for the further investigation, with assurance of ensuring justice within 90 to 120 days.

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Neglect of other victims

While Neha’s house was flooded by visits from prominent political leaders, including incumbent Union Minister Pralhad Joshi and Karnataka Ministers HK Patil and Santosh Lad, not a single MLA visited the residences of female victims of similar incidents reported in the last year across the state.

Sadly, other cases where women have met with the same fate as Neha, have not received as much attention as the Hubballi murder case.

However, a section of organisations raised their voices for the justice of 21-year-old Ruksana, who was hacked to death, reportedly by her live-in partner for asking him to marry her.

The accused belongs to the Hindu religion, but the opposition leaders – the BJP – remained tight lipped over the matter and did not utter a word seeking justice for Ruksana.

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Atrocities against women in Karnataka

The atrocities against women are on a rise in the state. Women are facing threats to their life from their loved ones or closed circles.

According to the City Crime Record Bureau (CCRB): “A total of 3,260 cases were reported against women in Karnataka in 2023. This is a 23.9 and 61 percent increase in crimes against women as compared to 2022 and 2021, respectively.”

“Among these cases reported in 2023, molestation cases topped the chart with 1,135 cases, followed by dowry cases, of which 1,007 cases were reported,” claimed CCRB, as reported by the Deccan Herald.

Several cases of atrocities against women have been reported in the last year. Here are some of the cases where women have been targeted by men either for rejecting their love or marriage proposal.

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Reported incidents of violence against women

A woman was reportedly fatally stabbed by her former partner in the Jayanagar district of Bengaluru. Following the attack, the woman’s mother allegedly struck the ex-boyfriend with a stone, resulting in his immediate death at the scene.

The individuals were identified as Anusha, 24, and T Suresh, 44. Anusha and Suresh lived in JP Nagar and Goraguntepalya, respectively. Police reported that Suresh succumbed to his injuries and passed away on 18 April.

The Karnataka police on 14 April, apprehended Pradeep, a Bengaluru resident, on suspicion of murdering his partner, Ruksana (21). Authorities state that Pradeep engaged in a relationship with Ruksana under the false promise of marriage.

The two met while Ruksana was employed in Mysuru, and they had a child together. However, Pradeep, who was already married, refused to marry her.

Pradeep informed the police that he felt harassed by Ruksana’s constant demands, prompting him to decide to end her life.

On the evening of 28 February, 2023, Leela Pavitha Nalamati, 25, was tragically murdered by a man who she rejected. He stabbed her repeatedly outside her workplace in Murugeshpalya.

She originally hailed from Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh. The accused Dinakar Banala (28), a resident of Srikakulam, was apprehended by the police in connection with the crime.

According to police reports, the incident occurred as Leela exited her office at approximately 7:30 pm, when Dinakar attacked her with a knife, inflicting over 10 stab wounds.

Tragically, Leela succumbed to her injuries on the scene, and Dinakar was swiftly apprehended by authorities’ minutes after the brutal act.

On 5 June, 2023, 23-year-old Akanksha, was reportedly strangled by her former live-in partner in Bengaluru. The victim, originally from Hyderabad, was employed at a private firm in Bengaluru.

The alleged perpetrator, identified as Arpit, hailing from Delhi, was employed at Byju’s, a global educational technology company. The Jeevan Bheema Nagar police in Bengaluru initiated a murder case in connection with the incident.

Police reported that a rejected suitor sexually assaulted and suffocated his girlfriend upon discovering that she was engaged to another man and planning to marry him soon.

Following the incident, the suspect hastened home and attempted suicide by hanging but was rescued in the nick of time and admitted to the hospital.

According to police sources, the suspect is identified as Manoj, 25, residing in KP Agrahara and employed by a pharmaceutical distributor. The couple met two years ago. Manoj proposed to her during their employment together, but she declined his advances.

Three young female students sustained severe burn injuries after they were attacked with acid by a 23-year-old man after he faced rejection from one of the girls on 4 March, 2024. The accused, who was pursuing MBA, hailed from Kerala.

He attacked the women while they were sitting in the college corridor, preparing for the Pre-University exams.

In yet another heart-wrenching incident, a trainee air hostess named Aynaz Mohammed (21), her mother Haseena (47), sister Afnan (23) and brother Azeem (14) were brutally hacked to death at their residence at Nejaru in Udupi on 12 November, 2023.

Praveen Arun Chowgule, a native of Sangli in Maharashtra, attacked Aynaz — who worked with him — and her family over issues in their relationship. The police succeeded in arresting and filing a chargesheet within 90 days.

(With inputs from Nolan Patrick Pinto | Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)