A huge mass rally was held on 26th November 2013 before the Deputy Commissioner's Office, Mangalore to mark the culmination of the two padayatras which had started on 21st November from Belthangady and Sullia and covered every part of the Dakshina Kannada district. These Jathas were organized by the CPI(M) District Committee to demand the Government of Karnataka that all the cases numbering over 450 recorded as unnatural deaths over a period of more than 3 decades in Dharmasthala and Ujire Villages be entrusted to CBI for investigation along with the one-year old case of rape and murder of Soujanya.
The Jatha which started from the banks of river Nethravathi in Belthangady was inaugurated by senior CPI(M) leader U. B. Lokayya and led by B. M. Bhat and K. Yadava Shetty, District Secretariat Members of CPI(M). The other Jatha which started from Sullia was inaugurated by Shri Siddabasava Kabirananda Mahaswamy of Gulbarga Singarahalli Marula Shankara Devara Gurupeeta and led by CPI(M) District Secretariat Members Vasantha Achari and Sunil Kumar Bajal. The inaugural function was presided over by CPI(M) state secretariat Member K.R.Sriyan.
In the face of Statewide protest unleashed by CPI(M) and spontaneously joined by vast sections of the people, the State Government announced that Soujanya issue will be entrusted to the CBI. By then, more than 13 months had elapsed since the rape and murder of Soujanya and all traceable evidence including two eye witnesses had been eliminated. One Ravi Poojary, said to be an eye witness to the Soujanya case had died under mysterious circumstances and the case was treated as suicide. Very recently, one Dinesh Gowda who was active in the protests demanding CBI probe, was killed by dashing a vehicle against him and it was treated as an accident. A domestic servent of one of the accused persons died under suspicious circumstances.
Vinaya Kumar Sorake, a Minister of the State Government openly declared in a public meeting at Dharmasthala that the Government will not allow this case to be treated as one of rape and murder. Shamelessness, thy name is Vinaya Kumar Sorake! Your Government has already announced its decision to entrust Soujanya case to CBI!
Such being the situation, the CPI(M) State Committee come to the conclusion that justice to Soujanya can be ensured only if all the cases of unnatural deaths which occurred in Dharmasthala and Ujire Villages during the last four decades including those of Padmalatha and Vedavalli are handed over to CBI for investigation. The cases closed by the police as unnatural deaths in these two villages during the last two decades amount to a total of more than 450 according to information collected by some organizations. Therefore the two Jathas demanded that along with the investigation into the rape and murder of Soujanya already handed over to CBI, all the cases of unnatural deaths of the last four decades in these two villages should be reopened and handed over to CBI. This demand caught the imagination of the people of the district who braved all threats and welcomed the Jathas everywere in large numbers.
Violation of fundamental rights is national issue – Basudev Acharya:
Addressing the huge protest rally before the Deputy Commissioner's Office, Basudev Acharya, Central Committee Member of CPI(M) and leader of the party in the Lok Sabha pointed out that Right to Life is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution. Unnatural deaths of more than 450 persons in Dharmasthala over the last more than three decades is nothing but a clear violation of fundamental rights. It is therefore not an issue confined to Dakshina Kannada District or Karnataka State. It is definitely a national issue and he declared that he will raise it in the Lok Sabha.
Let land grab issue also be entrusted to CBI
There are widespread complaints of grabbing of lands belonging to poor backward and dalith families by powerful forces of Dharmasthala. Many of the cases of unnatural deaths are alleged to be related to persons who resisted grabbing of lands enjoyed by them for generations. Basudeva Acharya demanded that all the cases of land grab in Dharmasthala also be entrusted to CBI.
CPI(M) Central Committee Member and leader of AIDWA, Vasuki, said that it is strange that in the land of the great social reformer Basavanna who propagated "kalabeda, kolabeda, husia nudialubeda" (don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t tell lies) all these vices are being perpetrated in a place called the "seat of dharma"! She said that in order to ensure un-hindered investigation, it should be done under the aegis of the Supreme Court. She said that the police officers responsible for distorting the process of investigation should be punished. It is strange that political parties like Congress, BJP and JDS are keeping mum on this serious issue, she pointed out.
Addressing the gathering, G.V.Srirama Reddy, State Secretary of CPI(M), called upon the Chief Minister to clarify the Government's stand in the context of the Minister Vinaya Kumar Sorake openly supporting the killers of Soujanya. He declared that the struggles will continue till the demands of the people are conceded by the Government.
S.Shankarappa, eminent lawyer of Karnataka also addressed the gathering and pointed out the legal contradictions in the reports submitted by COD and CID.
The meeting was presided over by CPI(M) district secretary B.Madhava and participated among others, by State Secretariat Members K.R.Sriyan and K.Shankar, State Committee Members J.Balakrishna Shetty, Vasantha Achary and Udupi Balakrishna Shetty and District Secretariat Members Yadava Shetty, U.B.Lokayya, B.M.Bhat, Krishnappa Salian, Sunil Kumar Bajal and writer Athrady Amritha Shetty. The parents of Soujanya, Chandappa Gowda and Kusumavathi were also present on the dias.
At the outset, B.M.Bhat and Vasanth Achary, leaders of the two Jathas spoke and narrated their experiences of the jathas.