A communally derogatory social media post allegedly by a man identified as Naveen, ignited a massive communal riot on Tuesday in Bengaluru, the city that brands itself as the IT capital of the nation. Naveen is said to be the nephew of Congress MLA Srinivas Murthy, and allegedly made a provocative post about Prophet Mohammed’s family on Facebook. He has been arrested, but the riots he caused have resulted in the death of three people. The MLA’s house was also surrounded and vandalised by the mob.
The riots broke out in DG Halli and KG Halli areas in the eastern part of Bengaluru. According to news reports, the mob also vandalised a police station and the residence of a Congress MLA. Around 60 police personnel have been left injured after being attacked by the mob, reported NDTV. The police have rounded-up145 people for violence, stone-throwing and assault on police personnel, stated a report in India Today.
According to the report the protesters set around two dozen cars on fire and though initially the police lathi-charged and tear gassed the crowd, they soon opened fire. The city police chief told Reuters that this was done because the police “risked being overpowered by the violent crowd.”
The Police Commissioner went to the spot and the security arrangements are still in place, say reports, which add that 60 police personnel have also been injured. India Today quoted Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant confirming the arrest, “Accused Naveen has been arrested for sharing derogatory posts on social media.”
The riot started when the mob, allegedly incited by the derogatory post, gathered near the residence of the Congress MLA on Tuesday night and vandalised the house, and set ablaze, the vehicles that were parked outside. The mob then went on to vandalise the police station nearby, perhaps because they thought the accused was being given shelter by the cops. According to news reports the mob set fire to 10-15 cars, including police vehicles, damaged a portion of the MLA’s residence, and then allegedly entered a basement area where 200-250 vehicles were set on fire.
According to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, “The mischief in the DG village police station has led to the assault and rioting of MLA Akhand Srinivasa’s home and police station. Already directed to prosecute the perpetrators against the perpetrators. . .”
ಡಿ.ಜಿ ಹಳ್ಳಿ ಪೊಲೀಸ್ ಠಾಣಾ ವ್ಯಾಪ್ತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕಿಡಿಗೇಡಿಗಳು ಶಾಸಕ ಅಖಂಡ ಶ್ರೀನಿವಾಸ ಅವರ ಮನೆ ಹಾಗು ಪೋಲೀಸ್ ಠಾಣೆ ಮೇಲೆ ದಾಳಿ, ಗಲಭೆ ನಡೆಸಿರುವುದು ಖಂಡನೀಯ. ಈಗಾಗಲೇ ದುಷ್ಕರ್ಮಿಗಳ ವಿರುದ್ದ ನಿರ್ದಾಕ್ಷಿಣ್ಯ ಕ್ರಮ ಕೈಗೊಳ್ಳುವಂತೆ ನಿರ್ದೇಶನ ನೀಡಲಾಗಿದ್ದು ಸರ್ಕಾರ ದಾಂಧಲೆ ಹತ್ತಿಕ್ಕಲು ಎಲ್ಲ ರೀತಿಯ ಕ್ರಮ ಕೈಗೊಂಡಿದೆ. (1/2)
— B.S. Yediyurappa (@BSYBJP) August 12, 2020
While the police are said to have fired in the air, two people are reported to have been killed. According to news reports the riot raged for hours, before it was finally brought under control around 2 A.M on Tuesday. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai has been quoted as saying that he has, “given police a free hand to contain the violence.” Bengaluru is now under Section 144 of CrPC, and a curfew has been imposed in DJ Halli and KG Halli.
With regard to incidents in DJ Halli, accused Naveen arrested for posting derogatory posts.. also total 110 accused arrested for arson, stone pelting and assault on police. APPEAL TO ALL TO COOPERATE WITH POLICE TO MAINTAIN PEACE.
— Kamal Pant, IPS (@CPBlr) August 11, 2020
Meanwhile, a group of Muslim youth got together and forme a human barrier to protect a temple in Bengaluru, during the violence.
That’s the beauty of India
Muslims created human chain to guard a Temple in #Bengaluru during violence.
Stay calm make peace #BengaluruViolence
— ???????? ??????? ? ( نُعَمِّرْ ) (@iam_nuammir) August 11, 2020
Among those reportedly detained is Muzamil Pasha, a Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) leader. He was allegedly picked up by police in connection with the DJ Halli police station violence in Bengaluru as per his party colleague Mujahid Pasha.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has been quoted by news reports saying, “Directives have been issued against perpetrators and the government has taken all possible steps to curb the situation. Attack on journalists, police and public is unacceptable. The government won’t tolerate such provocations and rumours. Strict action against perpetrators is certain.”
Meanwhile, Congress MLA Murthy appealed for peace and released a video message. He said an entire community should not resort to violence over the fault committed by some miscreants, “There is no need to fight. We all are brothers. We will get the person punished as per law. We will also be with you.” Former minister BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan said the violence was unfortunate. “I am hopeful that police will take action against all those who are responsible for this. I also request everyone to stay calm and maintain peace in the area,” Khan tweeted.
The incident that is happening in Kaval Byrsandra is unfortunate. I am hopeful that police will take action against all those who are responsible for this.
I also request everyone to stay calm and maintain peace in the area.
— B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan (@BZZameerAhmedK) August 11, 2020
Congress leader K C Venugopal has asked for strict action against both the man behind the derogatory post as well as those who rioted.
The violence in Bengaluru is unfortunate&condemnable.Strict action should be taken against those behind the derogatory post & those who indulged in rioting.Taking law into their hands & destroying public property shouldn’t be tolerated.Let peace prevail & let law take its course.
— K C Venugopal (@kcvenugopalmp) August 12, 2020
Karnataka Congress also appealed for peace and its chief DK Shivakumar has said, “The Government must take strict and exemplary action against the person who made the derogatory social media post as well as those who indulged in rioting and arson. At this point, it is important to maintain peace.”
I condemn the violence that has happened in Bengaluru. No one must take law into their own hands.
The Government must take strict and exemplary action against the person who made the derogatory social media post as well as those who indulged in rioting and arson. pic.twitter.com/Adhl152LPt
— DK Shivakumar (@DKShivakumar) August 12, 2020
However, another worrying aspect came to light in the riot. After the vicious attack on The Caravan’s journalists in the communally volatile area of Northeast Delhi, on the same day journalists covering the communal riot in Bengaluru were attacked.
A group of reporters who came to see the ground situation were attacked, that too by police. India Today reporter, Nolan Pinto who was hit, and badly injured, shared that they kept saying they were journalists on assignment when they were hit by the police. “We came as reporters to see what’s the ground situation but @CPBlr your police began to attack us without any provocation. No mob was present then!!” He has shown his injuries and said “police hit my head with a pole even though we kept yelling we are reporters.”
@CPBlr your police hit my head with a pole even though we kept yelling we are reporters. @prajwalmanipal was hit on the back. We had to run from your police to save ourselves when there was no mob present!!
— Nolan Pinto (@nolanentreeo) August 11, 2020
Another journalist, Prajwal, a reporter with The News Minute was hit on his back. “We had to run from your police to save ourselves when there was no mob present,” added Nolan. The journalists continued to do their jobs bravely, Prajwal posted more images from DJ Halli Police Station and its surrounding areas on Wednesday morning.
DJ Halli Police Station and its surrounding areas this morning following the mob violence in eastern Bengaluru last night. pic.twitter.com/WHfEhlhV1c
— Prajwal (@prajwalmanipal) August 12, 2020
While the Central government, especially the Information and Broadcasting Ministry continues to be silent on these attacks on the media who were just doing their jobs, journalists are back on the field. Arun Dev, Karnataka Bureau Chief of The Quint posted images of the aftermath at the DJ Halli police station.
— Arun Dev (@ArunDev1) August 12, 2020