Colleague of Lokesh Bangari, a sitting member of the Chikkabanavara Gram Panchayat, claims he belongs to the saffron party; BJP demands proof
Bengaluru: After it emerged that one of the accused in the mob attack on the 21-year-old student — who was thrashed and paraded naked — was a BJP man, the party distanced itself from the controversy.
Students from colleges across Bengaluru hold placards supporting Tanzanian nationals who were assaulted last Sunday. Pic/PTI
The accused, Lokesh Bangari, a sitting member of the Chikkabanavara Gram Panchayat, was one of the five suspects nabbed by the police after the alleged incident triggered widespread criticism, with many on social media terming it a case of ‘racial assault’. Bangari and the other accused were booked for assault, unlawful assembly, arson, rioting and outraging a woman’s modesty While Bangari’s colleague and a member of the same panchayat, Kabeer Ahmed, confirmed that they were members of the saffron party, BJP spokesperson S Prakash rubbished their claims stating political allegiances of panchayat members was not permanent because local body polls weren’t fought on party symbols.
"His [Bangari’s] name doesn’t feature on the list of 30 lakh BJP members. Those claiming that he belongs to our party should produce his membership card/number," Prakash said.
Ahmed asserted that Bangari is innocent and was a mere bystander when the incident occurred.
"He was an innocent bystander and wanted to help the victims. However, the crowd was too angry. He lost his wallet and ID card in the meele and that’s why it was found at the spot," Ahmed said.
Claiming that he too was at the spot, Ahmed said, "The woman was stripped. It’s true. But people were angry."
4 more arrested, 2 cops suspended
Four persons were arrested and two police officials suspended in connection with the alleged assault and stripping of a Tanzanian student that has triggered a nationwide outrage. With this, nine persons have been arrested so far since the incident happened on Sunday night. The suspended cops have been identified as Inspector Pravin Babu and Constable Manjunath.
"Babu has been suspended for dereliction of duty and Manjunath for not taking action even though he was present at the spot," said N S Megharikh, Bengaluru Commissioner of police.
Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports, the NHRC yesterday issued notices to the Karnataka Chief Secretary Kaushik Mukherjee and DGP Om Prakash to submit a report within two weeks regarding the action taken in the matter. NHRC member Justice D Observed: "If the contents of the report are true, the incident would amount to a serious violation of human rights, including racism."