New Delhi: The BJP-led government in Karnataka dropped 385 criminal cases, including 182 on hate speech, cow vigilantism and communal violence, during its term from July 2019 to April 2023, reported The Indian Express on April 23.
Over 1,000 people have benefited from this move. The Indian Express obtained this information through RTI responses from the state Home Department.
More than 1,000 benefited
The government issued a total of seven orders between February 2020 and February 2023 to stop persecution in 385 criminal cases. Of these, 182 pertained to communal violence, and the move to drop these cases has benefited more than 1,000 accused, IE reported.
In the first order, dated February 11, 2020, cases were withdrawn against people who were involved in the farmer protests. However, in most of the other six orders, at least half pertained to communal incidents, IE reported.
The beneficiaries from the orders also include a BJP MP and MLA, the news report said. Some of the orders issued between February 2020 and August 2020 involved elected representatives like Mysuru BJP MP Prathap Simha and BJP MLA Renukacharya M.P.
Of the 182 cases linked to communal violence, 45 were related to alleged violence by right-wing activists in the Uttara Kannada district in December 2017. As many as 300 people had been named in this case.
The 182 also included withdrawal of prosecution against four incidents of cow vigilantism in Chikamagalur, incidents of violence in Kodagu and Mysuru related to the celebration of Tipu Jayanti, cases linked to Rama Navami, Hanuman Jayanti and Ganesh Festival, protests over inter-religious marriages, as well as conversion, IE reported.
Cabinet sub-committee decides
An order by the state government in October last year instructed the Department of Prosecution to file necessary applications at the respective courts to withdraw 34 cases, despite the prosecution and law departments saying that they were “not a fit case for withdrawal”, IE said.
Four cases against Hindu Jagaran Vedike leader Jagadish Karanth were ordered to be dropped on October 1, 2022. The government also dropped a case of hate speech against Sri Rama Sene leader Siddalinga Swami and 11 others for an April 2016 Kalaburagi incident on March 20 this year, reported IE. Of the 21 cases withdrawn in February this year, 11 pertained to communal violence.
“We sit with the Law Department and Police Department and decide in the Cabinet sub-committee the cases that have to be withdrawn,” the IE report quoted home minister Araga Jnanendra, who is also part of the Cabinet sub-committee, as saying recently.
All requests for withdrawal come to him and he sends them to the sub-committee, the minister said. Jnanendra also added that not only have cases against right-wing activists been withdrawn, but also those against people involved in farmer protests and language protests, IE reported. “These are mostly cases which have been languishing for up to 10 years or more in courts…”, IE quoted him as saying.
According to news reports, recent data released by the state home department, at least 105 cases of hate speech were registered between January 2020 and 2023; 55 were reported from the capital, Bengaluru.