PSI, constable suspended, DySP faces action after police manhandle Puttur youths for taunting BJP leaders

A banner, "paying homage" to leaders responsible for the BJP's debacle in the Assembly polls, was put up near the Puttur bus stand on Monday.

ByBellie Thomas

Published May 19, 2023 | 11:46 AM Updated May 19, 2023 | 11:46 AM

The objectionable banner that was erected at Puttur Bus Stand

A sub-inspector attached to the Puttur sub-division in the Dakshina Kannada district was among two policemen suspended from service for allegedly torturing a group of nine men, who reportedly put up an “objectional” banner, taunting a couple of BJP leaders.

A DySP-ranked officer, too, might face disciplinary action, a senior police officer told South First.

“We have suspended two police personnel, a PSI and a constable attached to the Puttur police station, and have sent an inquiry report against the DySP, Puttur Division, for initiating disciplinary action,” Dakshina Kannada’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Amate Vikram said.

On 15 May, two days after the Karnataka Assembly poll results were out, a banner appeared near the Puttur bus stand, “Paying homage to leaders responsible for the BJP’s loss.”

The banner, adorned with a garland of footwear, had photographs of BJP state president Nalin Kumar Kateel and former chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda. Locals took photos and videos of the banner and widely circulated them on social media.

Based on district BJP leaders’ complaint, the police summoned nine people to the station for an investigation.

Related: Stray incidents marred poll victory celebrations in Karnataka

Youths not arrested

“We did not arrested the youths, but sent them notices under CrPC Section 41 to appear before a police officer for giving a statement on the banner that was put up,” a police officer in the SP’s office told South First.

Soon after the nine men arrived at the Puttur police station, a constable allegedly assaulted two of them — Abhi alias Avinash, 26, and Guruprasad, 24 — with a lathi, injuring them. Sources in Puttur said Avinash was a taluk correspondent of Hindu Jagran, an organisation affiliated to the RSS.

It has been alleged that the constable assaulted the men after influential politicians in the district had contacted senior police officers.

Also read: BJP faces rebel trouble as it takes on Congress in Puttur

Assault video goes viral

As the news of the detention spread, Hindutva activist and BJP rebel candidate in Puttur, Arun Kumar Puthila, rushed to the police station and took the injured youngsters to a hospital. A video clip of the assault and the duo limping out of the police station soon went viral on social media.

Incidentally, it is largely thanks to Arun Kumar Puthila that the BJP lost in Puttur in the recent Assembly elections.

Contesting as an independent after being denied a tocket by the saffron party, Puthila bagged 62,458 or 36.15 percent of the votes polled, losing by a little over 4,000 votes to Congress candidate Ashok Kumar Rai, who polled 66,607 votes (38.55 percent).

In the process, he relegated BJP candidate Asha Thimmappa to third spot with 37,558 votes (21.74 percent).

Related: ‘Talibanisation’ has begun, says K’taka BJP chief; police disagree

On 16 and 17 May, several seers and leaders from pro-Hindu organisations in and around Puttur visited the injured at the hospital. Meanwhile, senior police officers at the Inspector General of Police (IGP) office asked Dakshina Kannada SP Vikram for a report on the incident.

Following the SP’s inquiry, sub-inspector Srinath Reddy and constable Harshith were placed under suspension on Thursday, 18 May.

“We cannot suspend a DySP rank official, and hence we have sent a preliminary inquiry report on DySP Veerayya Hiremutt to our seniors, who would initiate disciplinary action against him,” a senior police officer told South First.

Avinash’s father said in a police complaint that Puttur DySP Veerayya Hiremutt, PSI Srinath Reddy, and constable Harshith had tortured the youths.

Mangaluru City Commissioner Kuldeep Kumar R Jain warned people against making inflammatory or provocative hate-posts on social media following the Karnataka Assembly election. He urged the public to ignore rumours.

Meanwhile, ADGP (Law and Order) Alok Kumar said “zero tolerance” would be maintained in such incidents of police highhandedness.