Forum of Human Rights Defenders appeals to NHRC against DN Murthy arrest

Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA) has filed a plea before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seeking an intervention for the immediate release of Mr. DN Murthy, an eminent journalist, entrepreneur, and social activist who was arrested in an allegedly fabricated case of sedition.

Mr. Doddipalya Narasimha Murthy

Who is DN Murthy?

Mr. Doddipalya Narasimha Murthy (DN Murthy) is an eminent journalist, thinker, entrepreneur and social activist. He has been working as a journalist in “The Sunday Indian” for the last eight years, and held the position of Secretary at the Gauri Media Trust which was started after the death of Gauri Lankesh in September 2017. He also writes for Nyaya Patha in place of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, as well as Business Guru.

He has been engaged in public activism in Karnataka for more than two decades, and also has been the General Secretary of “Swaraj India – Karnataka” since its inception. In particular, Mr. Murthy has been active in the struggle against the Bengaluru Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) since 1992.

The incident

On October 24, 2019, at around 2.30 pm, Mr. Murthy was picked up by the police when he was attending a seminar organised by the “Gauri Lankesh Balaga” in Raichur, Karnataka.

He was taken from the event to a traffic police station for questioning where he was held for many hours. When the media gathered at the station to ask why he was being interrogated, the police were unable to provide any substantial information till that night. Later, Mr. Murthy was shifted to the Raichur Rural Police station in the Superintendent of Police (SP) office compound for further questioning.

October 25, 2019, in a press briefing was addressed by the SP and the Deputy SP of the station, who claimed that, on the basis of an anonymous tip, they adduced Mr. Murthy to be a Naxalite named “Vinod” that worked for Karnataka Raithu Kooli Sangha (Karnataka Farm Labour Organisation) and was absconding for the last 25 years. They further claimed that this Vinod adname.

In their appeal to NHRC, HRDA has contended that Mr. Murthy has been actively engaged in journalism and social movements, and also has had numerous public appearances for the past 25 years in Bangalore and other districts in Karnataka. It is absurd that, despite so many open and public appearances, Mr. Murthy can be mistaken for an absconding criminal.

Mr. Murthy has never been arrested or even called for questioning at any other earlier occasion, HRDA noted.

As Mr. Kumar Samatala of Karnataka Jana Shakti, noted, Mr. Murthy also has a house in Bengaluru with his family, and runs a silk mill business with his elder brother. The fact that he was arrested in relation to continuing cases occurring in Raichur in spite of having this information clearly shows that the arrest was politically motivated.

The fact that Mr. Murthy has been implicated in a cold case, in which all other named accused have been acquitted, adds to the suspicion that this implication is blatantly false. Mr. Murthy has denied all the allegations made by the police and has categorically said that all the cases filed against him are false and fabricated.

The sections under which the Raichur Rural Police Station had booked Mr. Murthy include the Arms Act, the Indian Explosives Act, IPC sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 124A (sedition), 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with arms), 307 (attempt to murder), 335 (assault), and 385 (extortion).

Newslaundry reported that over 40 different organisations have joined hands to lend support to Narasimha Murthy, and that activists have also held protests in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Shivamogga, Hubballi and Dharwad. 

It is worth noting here that another activist Noor Sridhar had been false implicated as a Naxalite by the Karnataka government. He was acquitted after five years in October 2019 on the basis of reconciliation efforts made by the late Gauri Lankesh among others.


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