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Karnataka: Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, Whose Home Was Burnt By Muslim Mobs During Deadly Bengaluru Riots, Quits Assembly After Denied Ticket

Swarajya Staff

Apr 17, 2023, 09:16 AM | Updated Apr 18, 2023, 10:40 PM IST

Congress MLA R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy,
Congress MLA R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy,

Congress MLA R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, who was denied a ticket by the party for the upcoming assembly polls, resigned as member from the Karnataka Assembly.

On Sunday (April 17), Srinivas Murthy, who represented the reserved Pulakeshi Nagar Assembly constituency, went to Sirsi in Uttara Kannada district and submitted his resignation to Karnataka Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri.

"I am a legislator who has secured the highest number of votes. I was very disappointed when my name did not appear in any of the three lists. My constituency members and I were hurt, so I decided to resign." Srinivas Murthy told local media.

Srinivas Murthy also added that he has not decided his next course of action. He hinted that he may contest the elections as an independent.

In 2018 assembly polls, Srinivas Murthy won with the highest margin of votes (81,626) in the state. Pulakeshinagar constituency is a mix of slums, narrow lanes, and thickly-populated residential localities and is dominated by voters belonging to the Muslim community with a significant presence of Dalit community as well.

Srinivas Murthy is a follower of former CM Siddaramaiah. He first won from Pulakeshinagar as a JD(S) candidate in the 2013 polls but defected to Congress after he was lured by his mentor.

Home and Property Burnt During Bengaluru Riots

In August 2020, deadly violence erupted around the residence of Srinivas Murthy and later engulfed several parts of the city.

Claiming to be angered by an allegedly inflammatory Facebook post on Muhammad (who Muslims regard as their prophet) by the nephew of Srinivas Murthy, a mob of 3,000 to 4,000 Muslims arrived at his house. In the rioting that followed, multiple properties of Srinivas Murthy were burnt down.

The violence escalated further as angry Muslim mobs clashed with police deployed to quell the riots. The violent eruption resulted in the imposition of a curfew in several areas of the city, including Devara Jeevanahalli (former Mayor Sampath Raj was the Congress corporator from this ward) and K J Halli.

At least four people were killed, and over 100 cops were injured as rioting Muslim mobs continued on a rampage. Over 100 people were arrested, including members of the radical Islamist group Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI).

Even as the peace slowly returned, Srinivas Murthy accused fellow Congress leaders of orchestrating the attack on his residence and the deadly violence that followed. He charged that Sampath Raj and former Pulakeshinagar ward Congress corporator Abdul Rakeeb Zakir planned the attack due to long-standing political rivalry.

Srinivas Murthy also officially lodged a complaint with Central Crime Branch (CCB) in which he charged Sampath Raj with masterminding the violence. In his official complaint, Srinivas Murthy alleged that Sampath Raj was an aspirant for the Congress ticket from Pulakeshinagar during the 2018 assembly election, but Congress had denied him a ticket and fielded him instead.

Srinivas Murthy also demanded that his party take immediate steps to expel Sampath Raj and Abdul Rakeeb Zakir.

In the charge sheet filed by the CCB, Sampath Raj was charged with hatching a conspiracy for the violence to finish off Srinivas Murthy politically in connivance with another Congress corporator (Abdul Rakeeb Zakir) and some others. Police also accused Sampath Raj of remaining in touch with the masterminds throughout the widespread arson and violence.

The CCB's interim chargesheet named 60 accused, including Sampath Raj, his assistant Arun, car driver Santosh, corporator Zakir and his associate Majnu. Attributing the attack to internal party rivalry, police said Sampath Raj and Zakir, who had issues with Murthy, took advantage of the situation on the night of August 11, when KG Halli and DJ Halli areas erupted in violence.

In November 2020, Sampath Raj and his close aide Riyazuddin were finally arrested after absconding for over 40 days. The arrest came after the Karnataka high court directed police to take all steps to arrest the former mayor.

Siddaramaiah vs D.K Shivakumar factional feud

Loyalists of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah have repeatedly alleged that D.K. Shivakumar and his followers orchestrated the entire episode to deny ticket to Srinivas Murthy from the Pulakeshinagar constituency.

In a video that went viral on social media, former MLA Ashok Pattan is seen telling Siddaramaiah that loyalists of the KPCC president had "hatched a conspiracy" to deny ticket to Srinivas Murthy in the 2023 Assembly elections.

Predicatbly enough, D.K. Shivakumar sprung to the defence of Sampath Raj and accused the ruling BJP of "misusing" the law to defame his party. "Definitely this is an attempt to target Congress, where is the evidence to prove that Congressmen are involved. I have also seen the chargesheet. They (BJP) are doing it, they have a tradition to trouble Congress leaders and they are at it," he claimed.

Also Read: Karnataka: Two Probable Congress Candidates In Bengaluru Will Be A Stark Reminder Of How Factional Feuds Within The Party Have Often Triggered Riots, Burnt City

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