Don’t want to comment yet, says Shobha Karandlaje on CBI deeming Paresh Mesta death accidental

ByBellie Thomas

Published Oct 04, 2022 | 7:52 PMUpdatedOct 05, 2022 | 8:05 AM

BJP Karnataka leaders meeting then Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding NIA investigation in Mesta case in December 2017. (Twitter: Nalin Kumar Kateel BJP)

Union Minister of State for Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje told South First on Tuesday, 4 October, that she “won’t comment” on the CBI’s closure report in the Paresh Mesta death case.

Karandlaje, who, as Karnataka BJP state unit general secretary, made serious allegations of Mesta being murdered due to communal reasons in 2017, was not keen on commenting on CBI declaring it an accidental death.

Five years after the BJP and right-wing organisations gave the death of Paresh Mesta in Karnataka a communal spin and used it as an election issue, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has concluded that it was an accidental death.

Screenshot of now deleted tweet from MoS Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje. (Supplied)

Screenshot of now deleted tweet from MoS Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje. (Supplied)

Shobha Karandlaje in 2017, in a now-deleted tweet, alleged that hot oil was poured on Mesta, and that he was mutilated, castrated, and tortured by “jihadist elements”.

The Union minister of state also led a padayatra named Jana Suraksha Yatra ahead of the 2018 Assembly elections in Karnataka over the alleged killings of Hindutva workers under the then Congress government.

Karandlaje reiterated her allegations of communal murder on television shows.

Following her allegations, incidents of interfaith and communal violence spiked in Uttar Kannada.

Speaking to South First, Shobha Karandlaje said: “I don’t want to comment on it. I have not seen that (CBI closure report), and I will find out exactly what is mentioned in the report and get back.”

BJP claims from 2017

Karandlaje was not the only BJP leader to claim communal animosity as the reason for the murder of Mesta.

Screenshot of BJP's tweet in 2017

Screenshot of BJP’s tweet in 2017

On 8 December, 2017, the official handle of the Karnataka unit of the BJP tweeted condolence to Mesta’s family.

The party’s official handle went on to allege that another Hindu life was lost in Karnataka and held the then Siddaramaiah government responsible for it.

BJP MLA Aravind Limbavali on 12 December, 2017, reiterated Karandlaje’s allegations that Mesta was tortured.

By the time Limbavali put out this tweet in 2017, the state police had issued a detailed clarification denying all gory allegations.

The police, based on autopsy reports, urged forensic experts to clarify if Mesta was tortured.

The experts said Mesta was attacked with neither sharp objects nor boiling oil or acids.

The forensic experts concluded that Mesta’s body had bloated and turned black due to putrefaction owing to drowning.

Arvind Limbavalli's tweet in 2017

Arvind Limbavall’s tweet in 2017

Limbavali also used #HinduLivesMatter to suggest the majority community was under attack in Karnataka.

The incumbent national general secretary of the BJP, CT Ravi, on 11 December, 2017, tweeted that then Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah was responsible for “setting coastal Karnataka on fire”.

CT Ravi's tweet in 2017

CT Ravi’s tweet in 2017

Ravi alleged that the then Congress government was covering up Paresh Mesta’s murder to protect “Islamic Fundamentalists”.

BJP leaders had sent a delegation to then Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala as well as the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into Mesta’s death.

Another BJP leader from Karnataka who led the Janasuraksha Yatra’s second leg was Uttar Kannada Lok Sabha member Anantkumar Hegde.

On 14 December, 2017m he alleged that people had no faith in the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in the state.

Anantkumar Hegde's tweet then in 2017

Anantkumar Hegde’s tweet then in 2017

BJP spokesperson Mahesh told South First on Tuesday: “The investigation literally started after four months of the crime during the Siddaramaiah government. By then, the evidence and other documents that the government had to share with the CBI didn’t materialie. As far as the CBI’s conclusion is concerned, they say it is an accidental death, but Paresh Mesta’s father and mother still believe he was murdered as the circumstances then werelike that.”

He added: “It is shameful that the Congress government did not stand by the family. We will stand by Mesta’s family, and if they need another investigation, we will make arrangements for it.”

Hindutva outfits, however, are divided over the CBI’s closure report. While Pramod Muthalik of the Sri Ram Sene rejected the findings, deeming it injustice, Prakash Kukkehalli of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike said: “Since the CBI concluded that it is an accidental death, we have to believe it. A DySP friend of mine who was posted in Honnavar during that time told me that it is accidental death. Now it has been confirmed.”

Soon after the CBI wrote to Paresh Mesta’s father Kamalakar Mesta that his son died of drowning, the Leader of the Opposition, Siddaramaiah, and the then chief minister of the state, was quick to react scathingly at the BJP for its slanderous campaigning during the 2018 Assembly elections.