The police in Karnataka on Tuesday dismissed as rumours reports about a 14-year-old girl being attacked in communally tense Uttara Kannada’s Honnavar town. Superintendent of Police Vinayak Patil said the girl had confessed to inflicting wounds on her body and end her life in an attempt to escape a stalker.
Uttara Kannada district has been on the boil since Hindu and Muslim groups clashed in Honnavar on December 6. The town has been tense after reports that several Muslim men had tried to rape and kill the 14-year-old, who is a resident of Magodu Kodlagadde village. Commercial establishments had shut down, and the local administration had imposed prohibitory orders to prevent any more communal clashes.
“She feared that her stalker, Ganesh Eshwar Naik from neighbouring Magodu village, would rape her during her eight-km walk to school,” Patil said. “The man has [allegedly] been harassing her for the past six months.”
When she went to buy a bandage, the shopkeeper asked her the reason for the cut, and she cooked up a story that two youths had tried to abduct her, the police said. “The shopkeeper added spice to the story when he said he had seen two Muslim men roaming on a bike,” the superintendent of police said. “And it created communal tension.”
Patil said the girl confessed after a counsellor from the Mahila Santwana Kendra, run by the Department of Women and Child Development, asked her about the incident. A case has been registered against her alleged stalker based on her statement.
A comment by a Bharatiya Janata Party MP on Twitter fuelled communal tension in the trouble-torn Uttara Kannada district.
On December 14, Karnataka BJP General Secretary Shobha Karandlaje had tweeted that “jihadis had tried to rape and murder” a schoolgirl. “Why is the government silent about this incident,” the MP from Udupi-Chikmagalur wrote on Twitter.
The communal riots that began on December 6 worsened after the body of a Hindu youth, Paresh Mesta, was recovered from a pond in Honnavar. The BJP alleged that Muslims tortured and murdered him and accused the state’s Congress government of shielding the accused and destroying evidence in the case. Over the past week, the BJP has organised shutdowns in various parts of the district.
Uttara Kannada MP and Union minister Anant Kumar Hegde had even threatened more violence and bloodshed in Karnataka. “The chief minister should be ready for a bigger Marikamba Habba,” he wrote on his Facebook on Friday.
Maarikamba Habba is an annual event held in March in a temple in Sirsi town. Birds and animals are sacrificed by devotees to seek the deity’s favour.