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Karsevak arrested in connection with 1992 riots case granted bail in Karnataka

Srikanth Pujari, who was recently arrested in relation to the Ram Janmabhoomi case of 1992, has been granted bail by a court in Karnataka on Friday, January 5. This comes after BJP launched a campaign ‘I am also a Karsevak, arrest me too’, in a statewide protest. 

Pujari was arrested last week, as per the case that was registered at the Hubballi Town Police Station on December 5, 1992, for setting shops on fire in the city during the violence that followed the demolition of Babri Masjid. He had submitted a petition for bail, which was accepted by the First Additional District and Session Court of Hubballi

Pujari’s son, Manjunath said that he was detained for 8 days and was seen thanking the “lawyers and the deshbhakt” on his father’s release.

The 51-year-old Hindutva activist hails from the Hubballi district of Karnataka and has been working as an auto-rickshaw driver for the past few years. 

The Hubballi Police has said that he was booked in 16 cases in the last 31 years, including three for rioting. The police also said that Poojari has never appeared before the court, although he is also accused of illegal liquor sales and gambling. 

The arrest, which was for his alleged involvement in violence post-Babri Masjid demolition, had triggered a political storm in Karnataka. The BJP had called the arrest “witch hunting of Hindus”, while Congress has strongly opposed the accusations made against them of “vendetta politics” and “minority appeasement”. 

As per a report by The New Indian Express, Chief Minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah has said that the matter should not have reached a point wherein a national party has to defend a criminal suspect.

“If any BJP leaders have a little wisdom, they should please read out the list of charges against this person from Hubballi and then decide whether to fight for him,” he is reported to have said. 

On hearing the news, DK Shivkumar, Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka told the media, “It has come to my notice. We have all the right to question them. It’s been politicized, so nothing can be done. I have put my trust in the lord, court and you all. We cannot speak against the court and have accepted their decision”. 

State minister, M B Patil, has said that “Srikanth Pujari is a criminal. He has 18 cases registered against him”. 

“(He got the bail) but the case will also continue. The court will decide who is right and who is not…” said another minister, Satish Jarkiholi.

The controversy erupted ahead of the inauguration of the Ayodhya temple, scheduled for January 22. 

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