Udupi: In a gruesome incident of cow vigilantism, a BJP worker was killed and another person injured, allegedly by activists of a right-wing Hindu group near Hebri in this district on Wednesday night.
Hindu Jagarana Vedike activists intercepted and attacked the duo with sharp weapons, suspecting they were transporting calves to an abattoir, a senior police official said.
Praveen Poojary (29) succumbed to injuries at a hospital in Bramhavar, where his friend Akshay Devadiga (22) has also been admitted but he is out of danger, Udupi Superintendent of Police K T Balakrishna told reporters.
Earlier, the hand of VHP and Bajrang Dal activists was suspected behind the incident by police.
Seventeen people were arrested and a hunt was on to nab the others involved, he said.
"Hindu Jagarana Vedike members stopped a vehicle transporting three calves and assaulted two persons, accusing them of taking the calves to a slaughter house. In this incident Praveen, Poojary has succumbed to the injuries at a hospital in Brahmavara," Balakrishna said.
He said Devadiga was injured but is out of danger.
A case of murder has been booked at Brahmavara police station, he said, adding Hindu Jagarana Vedike's Srikanth is the prime accused in the case.
In Bengaluru, Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara said prima facie cattle trade-related business dispute may be the reason behind the killing of the BJP worker.
They (police) are suspecting some sort of a cattle trade- related business dispute," he said, adding, he did not see any communal angle" at this point of time.
Parameshwara also expressed concern over repeated incidents relating to beef and cattle trade in Karnataka.
"We are vigilant, we will definitely try and maintain peace and order. I appeal to the people who are trying to create this kind of disturbance not to do this because we are a tolerant society and we should not create these kind of issues."
Coastal districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada have been reporting cases of cow vigilantism in the last several years.
The incident comes days after the Home Ministry cracked the whip on cow vigilantism, asking all states not to tolerate anyone taking law into their hands in the name of protecting cows and to take prompt action against such offenders.
The Ministry advisory had come two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked cow vigilantes and asked people to beware of these 'fake' protectors trying to divide the society and the country.
He made these comments after his government and BJP came under attack over incidents of violence against Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes in various states, including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.