On March 21, 2018, two years would have elapsed of the BJP booth level activist and a sincere worker, Vinayak Baliga’s brutal murder in front of his home and in the arms of his family. He was brutally hacked to death on the same date in 2016. His murder brought out an intrigue, a plot and a sketch for a cold-blooded murder by the very proponents of Hindutva who have today put his photo on the posters listing out the murders during the Congress regime! The accused no 1 in this murder is Naresh Shenoy the founder of the NaMo brigade, which was later named as the Yuva brigade, after the person after whom it was named became the Prime minister. The group, however, has been claiming that their efforts were responsible for him to come to rule. Again, one of the patrons of this group is Chakravarthi Sulibele who was the first one to welcome the accused no.1 when he was released on bail.
This sensational murder which shook the whole city was brutal and committed with the brazen courage that nothing would happen to the assailants or those who plotted it. Baliga had too many enemies. He was an RTI activist who had filed more than a hundred applications under the act and had filed cases too. He had caused big institutions like the one time so-called Manipal University to pay up crores as fines. He had exposed a residential complex in his neighbourhood which had managed to get occupied with licences though it had not commissioned the mandatory sewage treatment plant. He had filed a case against the trust called South Kanara Dravida Brahmins association who had built up more than twice the area sanctioned under the approved plans. In fact, the hearing of the case filed by him was to be a couple of days after he was killed. All these and more were tried to be hidden by a very clever ploy. The killers were supposedly apprehended by the police and when they were interrogated they confessed to the murder. But, the motives were not clear and the then Commissioner of Police Mr C.M.Chandrashekar smelt a rat. This led to taking over of the investigations by a special team and the whole plot unravelled The name of the first accused along with several others involved in the conspiracy got revealed and the accused no. 1 Naresh Shenoy, the founder of the NaMo brigade fled the city and was incommunicado for three months.
During this period the various progressive organizations and individuals formed a committee to help the family of the victim. The murderers had fixed the police and had banked upon the case being poorly presented leading to acquittal of the accused. That was again because Baliga was the only son of his parents with an elder sister and three younger sisters. With an octogenarian father and mother with only women in his family, the plotters had expected things to go in the direction they wanted. Going to the motives of the murder there were a lot of speculations but the needle of suspicion pointed to the affairs of the community into which Baliga was born and very much attached to. He was a devotee of the god Venkataramana and the community to which he belonged to built temples to this deity and worshipped him. There was one such temple at Mangalore which had been renovated at a cost of tens of crores and a good amount of this was unaccounted for. Baliga had pointed out many irregularities in the Kashi Math under whose supervision the temple was functioning. He had written many letters to the temple authorities and had also filed cases against them. He had also drafted a document which he had submitted to the court and a commission had been appointed for it. The court had also asked for a re-audit of the accounts and one chartered accountant had agreed to take up the job too.
But once Baliga was murdered these processes ground to a halt. The chartered accountant who had agreed to take up the audit withdrew citing threats to the safety of his staff. The whole process of making a scheme for making the temple authorities accountable to the community came to a halt. All these cases were due for hearing within a short while of Baliga’s brutal murder. While these would have gone forward if he were to be alive, his end saw an end to this process which should be clear enough to establish mens rea. But the investigations ground to a halt after the arrest of the accused no 1 and his subsequent release on conditional bail. The conditions of the bail were that he should not try to influence the witnesses or get involved in the affairs of the temple in any way. But he took part in several activities and a photo of him with the BJP MP of the constituency standing in the said temple along with accused no 8 in the same case has been doing the rounds. That, along with evidence of CCTV footage, has been filed along with an application for cancellation of bail for the accused no 1.
One of the cases that Baliga had filed was against a school which was run by the South Kanara Dravida Brahmins Trust which had built up more than 1,000 square meters after getting a license for construction of 950 square meters. The trust is headed by M.B.Puranik who is the head of VHP and a well-known Hindutva leader. Baliga had filed a complaint against this violation in 2013 itself and the spot inspection had shown his allegations to be true. The hearing of the case was a couple of days after his murder and had been adjourned. Subsequently, his sister Harsha and Narendra Nayak had got impleaded into the case and after several hearings, the orders of the demolition of the extra portion has been passed.
On March 21, two years would have elapsed after the dastardly cold-blooded brutal murder of Vinayak Baliga. The circumstances show that the saffron gang would not hesitate to murder their own activists if they do not toe the line. Their silence about this murder and trying to pass it off as one of their activists killed by others is an attempt to capitalize on such. In fact when Baliga was murdered their activists were on the lookout for some member of the minority community to be made a scapegoat. Attempts were also made to try and link it to an underworld don who backed out when he saw the true picture! In the meanwhile, Baliga’s aged father is bedridden and ailing, while his mother passed away, unable to cope up with the grief of her only son’s murder. The family lives in fear while the social activist rationalist Nayak, who was the main force behind the exposure, lives under police protection as attempts have been made to eliminate him.
Will Vinayak Baliga get justice? How long can his family continue this fight? Activists and organizations supporting them have decided to take out a march in their support on March 21, 2018, in Mangalore followed by a public meeting.
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