Social activist DN Murthy arrested by Karnataka police

He was charged in cases already dismissed by the court

DN Murthy
Image Courtesy: Gauri Lankesh News

DN Murthy, the Secretary of Swaraj India Party in Karnataka was arrested on October 24 in Raichur, Karnataka. He was arrested at the site of the event organized by “GauriLankeshBalaga” where he was to attend a seminar on Alternative Journalism, reported GauriLankesh News.
A social activist, Murthy has been charged in cases that have already been dismissed by the courts.

A press meet held by Raichur Superintendent of Police CB Vedamurthy drew a lot of ire as the justification of Murthy’s arrest did not make much sense to anyone.

The police statement said:
“DMN Murthy(who goes by the name Vinod) was arrested for organising a meeting 25 years ago with 8 people against the government that the govt. is not doing anything for poor people. He has been absconding from last 25 years”

The police’s statement has drawn a lot of flak from social activists. The police alleged that Murthy went by various names – Vinod, Basavaraj, etc and was wanted in various cases in Raichur. They have arrested him in four cases that go back to 25 years and that he was‘wanted’ in cases related to organizing poor people’s struggle against the government.

Contrary to police allegations, Murthy has been very much present in the public eye for the past 25-30 years. Since the 90s, he has been an entrepreneur and provided jobs to many and is presently a journalist with The Sunday Indian and GauriLankeshPatrike, writer and activist in Karnataka.
He has also been working as the Secretary of the GauriLankesh Media Trust since after her brutal assassination by right-wing fanatics.

All the cases pertaining to Murthy’s arrest have been officially dismissed by the respective courts and in one other case, the petitioner backtracked on his claim. In spite of all the evidence provided by Murthy’s lawyers and his family, he was sent to judicial custody where he will remain till the next hearing on November 6.

Speaking exclusively to Sabrang India, a police officer involved in Murthy’s arrest said, “No one is investigating his present activities. The arrest has been made on the basis of arrest warrants that have been pending from 1994 to 2001.”

He has been detained on serious charges including under the Arms Act and the Explosives Act which date back to 1994.Raichur police officials stated that a case was registered against Narasimha Murthy at the Yapaldinni (Raichur Rural) police station in 1994 under the Arms Act and under sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 307 (attempt to murder), 147 (rioting) and 148 (rioting with arms) of the IPC. In 2001, another case was registered in the same police station under sections of the Indian Explosives Act and under sections 143, 147 (rioting), 355 (assault), 385 (extortion), 386 (extortion and grievously hurting a person, 307 (attempt to murder).A third case was registered in Netaji Nagar police station under sections 307 (attempt to murder) and section 341 (wrongful confinement of a person). In 2016, another case was registered against him in Bengaluru’s Jayaprakash Nagar under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Arrest to silence dissent
Many civil society members have questioned the police’s move to be politically motivated to silence dissent.

People fighting for equal and justifiable society, writers, activists, journalists led by Freedom fighter HS Doreswamy, ChukkiNanjundswamy, IndudharHonnapur, N Venkatesh, Dinesh Amin Mattu, DrVijayamma, BT LalithaNaik, S Raghunandan, G.Rajshekar, DrSiddanagoudaPatil, Nagaragere Ramesh etc have condemned the arrest and demanded the release of D N Murthy immediately in a signed Press release.

Murthy has been a staunch oppose of the Bengaluru-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor. Many activists say it could be because of this that his arrest took place. Activists allege that his arrest has been another example of the right-wing flexing its power. With BJP back in power in Karnataka, the arrests on dissenters has been on the rise.

The Bangalore police earlier arrested Karnataka RanadheeraPade founder B. Harish Kumar on the flimsy grounds of disturbing communal harmony. This, at a time when ruling party ministers have openly been spewing hate at rallies and making misogynistic comments against women.
The party at the centre has been notorious for its arm wringing tactics to prevent dissent. From arresting Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar for his ‘Azadi’ anthem and celebrities who call out the increase in hate crimes during party tenure, on the charges of sedition; to brutal killings of activists like Lankesh and Kalburgi; the current arrest of DN Murthy just proves what the rhetoric is.

His arrest is an attack on democracy as also on progressive and liberal thinkers who voice their opinion against the supremacist, Hindutva peddling ideologies of the ruling party.

Murthy’s arrest is not the first in the long line of accusations against activists. Suppressing democratic voices has become the fashion of the centre and is just another stark proof of the pro-fascist agenda of the government.

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