Mangalore (Karnataka): In the Karnataka elections, a major charge levelled by the BJP is that 23 of their workers have been killed by 'jihadi' forces in the past five years, under the Congress rule. The BJP lawmaker from Udupi Shobha Karandlaje wrote a letter to the Home Ministry last year listing all 23 names.
- 23 workers killed by 'jihadi' forces in Karnataka in past 5 years: BJP
- Ashok Poojary, killed in 2015 according to BJP's letter, is still alive
- He says was attacked by 6 men because of his links to Hindutva body
The first name on the list is of Ashok Poojary, killed, according to the letter on September 20, 2015.
Except Poojary is still alive.
NDTV met him in his village in Udupi district, 2 hours north of Mangalore.
Poojary, a worker for the Bajrang Dal and the BJP, says he was attacked in 2015 by six men riding on three motorbikes because he worked with Hindutva organisations.
He said the attackers recognised him because he was wearing a saffron scarf wrapped around his head, while returning from work. Poojary plays the drums in a wedding band.
"I was in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for 15 days. They thought I was going to die. But then thanks to God, I made it", he said.
He says he received a call from Shobha Karandlaje, admitting that adding his name on the list was a mistake.
Ms Karandlaje told NDTV that she had written a clarification to the Home Ministry, removing a few names including Poojary's. The new list had 20 names.
But the BJP continues to cite the "23 workers killed" figure. "More than 2 dozen of our workers have been killed in Karnataka", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, while campaigning for assembly elections on May 12.
The state government has debunked those claims, saying of the 23, 14 deaths had nothing to do with Muslim attackers. The reasons, they found ranged from suicide, to personal enmity.
The District President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad or VHP in Mangalore, Jagadish Shenava told NDTV that the BJP will not make false claims. "If the names are there, it must be correct", he said.