Image courtesy: The News Minute
Communal tensions have been on the rise in the Dakshina Kannada part of India. The recent reason for the escalating situation of communal divide is the recent attack on a Muslim shopkeeper, which resulted in his death. On the evening of Saturday, December 24, a 45-year-old man named Abdul Jaleel allegedly died from stab wounds at Katipalla, Mangaluru which falls within the ambit of the Surathkal police station. He was at his shop in Katipalla when two persons allegedly attacked him around 8 pm on Saturday. He was immediately rushed to a hospital nearby, where he succumbed to injuries.
In response to the event, the Mangaluru Police Commissioner, N Shashi Kumar, imposed prohibitory orders in Surathkal and surrounding areas under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) on the day following the attack. Jaleel, who has since passed away, had a fancy shop. Thus, within the boundaries of the Surathkal, Panambur, Bajpe, and Kavoor police station limits, movement of persons in groups of five or more was prohibited from 6 am on Sunday, December 25, to 6 am on Tuesday, December 27. A ban on the sale of liquor was also imposed in the four areas mentioned above till 10 am on December 27.
On December 26, three individuals were arrested by the Mangaluru police in connection with the killing of shopkeeper Abdul Jaleel. Shailesh Poojary (21) of Katipalla, Savin Kanchan (24) of Mulki, and Pavan Pachhu (23) of Katipalla have been named as the suspects by the police. According to the information provided by the police, Pavan provided the motorcycle that Shailesh and Savin used to escape the scene after stabbing Jaleel.
As reported by the News Minute, it has reportedly come to light that the suspects Shailesh and Savin have a history of involvement in several criminal cases, including an attempted murder case reported to a local police station in 2021. Muneer Katipalla, state head of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), claims that the two have prior involvements in communal incidents. According to Muneer, the Pinky Nawaz murder case in Mangaluru implicated both the suspects Shailesh Poojary and Savin Kanchan. Pinky Nawaz was the prime accused in the January 2018 murder of Bajrang Dal activist Deepak Rao.
On December 28, the Mangaluru police arrested another person in connection with the murder of Jaleel. The arrested is identified as Lakshmish Devadiga (28) a resident of the fourth block of Krishnapura-Katipalla. Thus, so far, the police have arrested four persons in the murder case.
As reported by the Times of India, it is being purported by sources that the fourth accused arrested had a personal enmity with the victim over the latter’s alleged relationship with the Hindu woman.
Protesters allege discrimination in investigation
On December 27, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and the Sunni Student’s Federation (SSF) launched a protest against the incident at Mangaluru’s Clock Tower. At the Clock Tower, a significant crowd of demonstrators accused the police and the government of “discrimination” in the probe and expressed their displeasure.
The video of the protest can be viewed here:
Huge protest by #Muslim community in #Mangalore demanding justice for Jaleel who was stabbed in his shop. Meanwhile, one more person arrested in Jaleel murder case Lakshmi Devadiga (28) from Katipalla now in custody. So far, 4 arrests have been made in the case #Karnataka pic.twitter.com/IUhnKoj0z9
— Imran Khan (@KeypadGuerilla) December 27, 2022
On December 25, furious Surathkal residents halted the ambulance carrying Jaleel’s body and wouldn’t let it move until the suspects were taken into custody. After learning about the demonstration, Shashi Kumar, the commissioner of police for Mangaluru, arrived at the scene and assured the demonstrators of strict and prompt action. Later, the funeral procession was permitted to continue.
What reason is being alleged behind the murder of Jaleel?
It has been alleged that Jaleel was murdered due to his involvement with a Hindu woman. While the Mangaluru Police Commissioner Shashi Kumar has said that motive behind the murder of Jaleel are still being looked into, the Congress Party are asserting the murder to be an alleged case of moral policing. The leaders of the opposition leaders are attempting to hold the ruling BJP accountable for the increasing number of communal murders in the region.
During Zero Hour in the ongoing state assembly session, the Congress MLA and former minister UT Khader has linked the murder to moral policing, and said “If the police are given a free hand, then such communal killings could have been prevented. Those indulging in moral policing get bail. If we don’t exert control, things will go out of hand.”
Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has accused Basavaraj Bommai, the current Chief Minister, with discriminating against Muslims when allocating compensation for victims of communal crimes. “When will this (communal murders) end? Until moral policing is not stopped, this will continue. Further, the chief minister gives provocative statements – ‘There is a reaction to every action’. How will this stop if people provoke or speak in a manner supporting such incidents,” Siddaramaiah had said. Siddaramaiah has also alleged that moral policing is frequently carried out by the right-wing group Bajrang Dal and that that outfits like Bajrang Dal blow things out of proportion. “In the same place, before Jaleel’s murder, another murder also took place, that too, when CM was in Mangaluru. What are the police doing?” Siddaramaiah had asked.
An environment of unrest in Dakshina Kannada
The targeted violence against minorities has increased in the last few months in the Dakshina Kannada district. Jaleel’s murder comes after the July 28 murder of Fazil, 22, a resident of Mangalapete in Surathkal, who was hacked to death with sharp objects in the vicinity of a clothing store by unidentified assailants.  Only a few days had passed since the July 26 murder of BJP Yuva Morcha member Praveen Nettaru in Bellare before Fazil was killed. A few days prior, on July 19, an 18-year-old man named Masood, who resided close to Bellare village, was also killed by a mob while tending to a calf. 
Communal incidents, especially those of ‘moral policing’, have also been growing. As per a report provided by the Hindu, so far, the Dakshina Kannada district has reported at least six such incidents in the past two months alone, in which police had registered cases.
On October 21, a Muslim man, age 27, was taken from a private bus at Naguri in the city and assaulted for riding with a Hindu woman.
Later on November 24, a Muslim college student was beaten at Nanthoor in the city and made to get off a private bus for traveling with a Hindu girl.
On December 6, a Muslim employee of a jewelry store in Kankanady was attacked for being close with a fellow Hindu coworker.
On December 7, a Muslim teenager was attacked for going to the theater with a female from his own community to see the movie “Kantara” in Sullia. 
On December 10, two young Muslim fisherman in the city of Kottara Chowki were attacked for walking with two Hindu girls. 
After learning about a Hindu girl traveling with a Muslim male, four activists halted a private bus headed for Bengaluru at Mani, close to Kalladkka, and caused a scene. A suo-moto complaint was opened by the police in the Mani incident.