A journalist has been arrested in Bengaluru in connection with a letter that was presented as being written by Karnataka Home Minister MB Patil. In the letter, which the police say was forged, a suggestion is made to the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi that bringing a divide within the Lingayat community would be beneficial for the Congress.
The Lingayats are a dominant caste in northern Karnataka and is usually seen as a BJP vote bank. Ahead of the assembly elections in Karnataka last year, the ruling Congress government had suggested to the centre that Lingayats be given a separate religious status.
The letter had surfaced first before the assembly elections, and it appeared again just ahead of the Lok Sabha election in a Kannada newspaper. The BJP had also tweeted the letter and said the "entire Lingayat and Veerashaiva community division was planted under direct instruction of Sonia Gandhi".
"The letter written to Sonia Gandhi by Congress leader MB Patil exposes shocking details of how she wanted to divide Hindu communities in Karnataka," the BJP had alleged.
MB Patil then filed a complaint and the case was handed over to the CID.
"...A forged letter in the name of Sri M B Patil was circulated in social media and published in a daily news paper viz; VijayaVani on 12/05/2018 (The day of polling for general election to Karnataka legislative assembly) and again after nearly one year on 16/04/2019 (48 Hours before the first phase of polling in Karnataka for general election for Lok Sabha)," the police said in a statement.
"During investigation, SA Hemanth Kumar, 57, special correspondent, Uday India... is arrested based on credible evidence corroborated by oral statement... court has police custody till 30/4/2019," the police said, adding further investigation is on.
Questions were raised by rival parties after the then state government suggested giving separate religious status for Lingayats, on whether it was done with an eye on the assembly polls.