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The BJP and the Congress government in Karnataka were on Friday locked in a spat over issues relating to security of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh even as a breakthrough eluded investigators three days after her murder.
The Karnataka government, meanwhile, announced Rs 10 lakh reward to anyone who provides clues about the killing of 55- year-old Gauri at her home in Bengaluru on Tuesday night.
The BJP accused the Congress government of failing to provide security to Gauri by bringing up the work done by her for the surrender of Naxalites on the basis of claims made by her brother.
Senior BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also condemned the "malafide comments" on the "regrettable and unfortunate killing" of the journalist-activist.
Various party leaders, he added, had spoken out against the murder.
Showing copies of news reports of Gauri's brother, Indrajit Lankesh, claiming that she had worked for the surrender of Naxalites, Prasad asked why the Siddaramaiah government had not provided her security.
"Indrajit Lankesh is on record having said publicly that his sister was working actively to ensure the surrender of Naxalites...So was she doing it with consent and approval of the state government...And if so why was she not provided adequate security?" Prasad asked at a press conference in New Delhi.
It had also been said that Naxalites were unhappy with this. "Why was there such a security failure by the Congress government in Karnataka?" he added.
Taking on Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Prasad asked why he had not questioned his party's government in the state.
Rahul has already blamed RSS wing groups for killing the journalist, Prasad said. How then could a fair probe be expected from the Congress government in Karnataka, he added.
Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy hit back at Prasad for alleging that the state had failed to provide security to Gauri.
Reddy said Prasad was not acquainted with the facts about the slain journalist and that she never asked for security.
"Whenever she met the chief minister or senior police officials, including the DGP, she never asked for security," he told PTI in Bengaluru.
Reddy said that if Gauri had sought security, thestate government would have given it.
"No government will deny protection to anyone if asked for it. We'd have certainly given her protection," he said.
"In this light, therefore, the government has decided to give protection to intellectuals even if they haven't asked for it," he added.
The announcement of the Rs 10 lakh award by Reddy came a day after the Bengaluru police asked public to share any information that they may have in connection with the case through a specific phone number and e-mail id.
"Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) has given instructions to intensify the investigation and nab the culprits as soon as possible. We have given enough officials to the SIT, if they need additional officers we are ready to give," Reddy said.
Speaking to reporters after meeting Siddaramaiah, he said, "We will give Rs 10 lakh reward to anybody who gives clues about the culprits."
Siddaramaiah held a meeting with the SIT on the investigation that is in progress in connection with the case.
Reddy, along with SIT chief B K Singh, Director General of Police R K Dutta and Intelligence DG A M Prasad were present at the meeting.
Asked to comment on concerns expressed by Gauri's family about the possibility of a delay in nabbing theassailants, citing the delay in solving rationalist M M Kalburgi murder case, Reddy said the SIT had been formed with the intention to nab the culprits at the earliest.
"The government's intention is to solve the case as quickly as possible... That's the reason we have given so many officials to this case particularly. If more officials are required, we are ready to give," he said.