Bengaluru: Leaders in Karnataka who have been part of the campaign for a separate religious status for the Lingayat community have spoken out saying they were facing threat for their ideological stand.
The leaders, retired IAS officer S M Jaamdar and JDS MLC Basavaraj Horatti, said they received calls, asking them to be safe, hours before journalist Gauri Lankesh was murdered in cold blood on the porch of her home.
Jaamdar told CNN-News18 that he has been informed by police that he could be a possible target, based on intelligence inputs. Horatti added that he received calls from random numbers, asking him to be careful and to take precautions while venturing out of the house.
“I was told by the police that I am under threat. But before that too, some of my followers have been informally telling me to be on the alert, warning me to be careful and things like that. Not just me, police have felt there are at least half a dozen people who are part of this campaign who are under threat… including two Cabinet Ministers and an MLC,” Jaamdar told CNN-News18.
While he said he has not got any direct threat calls, Horatti, the MLC, said he has received two calls that were suspicious. These too happened on the evening of September 5, about four to five hours before Lankesh was murdered.
“Some people called me and told me not to go anywhere alone. He told me to take care, take precautions. When I checked the number, it was some number in Kalasipalyam in Bangalore. Another caller with a similar message said he was from Gulbarga, but the number was not from Gulbarga,” Horatti said.
He is yet to contact the police but will talk to them if necessary, Horatti told CNN-News18. “I have been part of so many agitations for so many years, I have never sought protection till now,” he said.
Jaamdar said he was told by the police that Minister MB Patil is among those who could be targeted. “But our agitation will continue, no matter what happens,” he said.
A day after Lankesh’s murder, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had said that he would ask police to identify all those progressive thinkers and activists who face danger and ensure police security is extended to them.