BJP fashions Mesta death stir after Black Lives Matter movement

Calls it Hindu Lives Matter campaign; Cong calls it divisive agenda

The death of Paresh Mesta has prompted the BJP to launch a campaign called Hindu Lives Matter, drawing inspiration from the Black Lives Matter movement that originated in the United States against racist killings of African-Americans.

Since Tuesday, BJP leaders and supporters have pushed the #HinduLivesMatter campaign on social media as part of the saffron party's ongoing agitation on the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government over the 'killings' of Hindu activists. The party says 20 Hindu workers have been killed in the state, including Mesta whose death resulted in violence in the volatile Uttara Kannada.

Over 19,000 tweets have been pushed out on #HinduLivesMatter, according to online analytics tool Trendsmap that tracks topics frequently tweeted. The ruling Congress, however, has dismissed the BJP's campaign, accusing the party of "deliberately" raking up communal issues.

It was the death of 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin in Florida that triggered the #BlackLivesMatter movement in 2012 against "systemic racism towards black people." A similar systematic targetting is taking place against Hindu activists, according to BJP general secretary C T Ravi, who has used #HinduLivesMatter to push the narrative.

"A total of 29 Hindu activists have been killed in the last four years with 20 of them dying in the last two years alone. Why are these killings happening? Who is behind them? The government is blaming us, instead, for highlighting this," Ravi said. "The Congress is being divisive, so we're trying to unite the society."

Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda has tweeted: "State of Karnataka is rapidly changing to become another Islamic state. The fear of being hacked just because you r a Hindu is evident #HinduLivesMatter."

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee working president Dinesh Gundu Rao ridiculed the campaign. "All lives matter. Why only those of Hindus or Muslims? The campaign itself is divisive. Why didn't the BJP do this when (journalist) Gauri Lankesh and (scholar) M M Kalburgi were killed? BJP leaders are themselves perpetrators of hate crimes in the name of Gau Rakshaks and Love Jihad," Rao said.

The BJP has petitioned Governor Vajubhai R Vala, seeking a probe by the National Investigation Agency into the 'killings' of Hindus.

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