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Cow Vigilantism and Udupi Politics | Yashpal Suvarna

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Yashpal Suvarna is a BJP MLA candidate from Udupi, Karnataka, for the upcoming State elections on 10 May 2023. There has been controversy in his rise to power. This is only the beginning. 

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Yashpal Suvarna, BJPs candidate from Udupi. Credit:

On the evening of 13 March 2005 in Adi Udupi. A photojournalist named Umesh Marpaly captured the incident. A call mentioned that Hindu-Muslim violence was taking place near the national highway, where Umesh saw two naked Muslim men crouching down in fear in the middle of a mob of Hindutva extremists. The father-son duo were beaten with iron rods and clubs. One of the accused, Yashpal Suvarna was acquitted and later chosen by the BJP to contest municipal elections in 2008. In 2022, he was in the headlines during the anti-hijab agitations, calling those who challenged the ban, “anti-nationals”. Yashpal was vice president of the College Development Committee (CDC) of the college where the controversy started. 

The Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike, a coalition of more than 200 organizations working to establish communal harmony and to fight against the agenda of communalism in Karnataka, held a protest condemning the incident on 19 March of that year. Cow vigilante is the use of physical force in the name of protecting the cow. 

The fast track court in Udupi expressed doubt that the incident had taken place, despite the photographic evidence. The judgment in the case reads, “Any of those who were present there under the circumstances definitely would have extended all help and assistance. But it is difficult to comprehend that none of them went to their rescue or assistance,” 

Yashpal’s political career took off after that incident, a prominent Hindutva leader in Udupi said that he was seen as someone ready to go to jail for their cause. Although his popularity and influence grew, he was denied to stand for the BJP Assembly Elections in 2018, as the party chose Raghupathi Bhat, however over the last few years, support for Bhat slowly diminished. During a recent roadshow, the pair had garlands placed on them to show that they were working together for the party. 

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