Listen to this article:
Mangaluru: Police on Monday, September 12, registered an FIR against the organisers of a Ganesh Chaturthi procession in Karnataka’s Gulbarga city after videos showing its participants allegedly dancing to songs with lyrics which threatened violence in front of a mosque were shared multiple times on social media. Police have notably not booked a BJP leader who had, before the procession, threatened the use of loudspeakers in it.
Gulbarga is also called ‘Kalburagi’.
The videos purportedly showed scenes of revelry outside a mosque. According to what can be heard in the clips, a loudspeaker appears to blare the lyrics: “Is dharti ko khoon se hum nehlayenge, hum tujhko teri aukaat dikhayenge.” Translated, it means, ‘We will drench this land in blood, we will show you your place.’
The Wire has not been able to independently verify the contents of the clips but has been told by several eyewitnesses that this was the music played. Hindi songs with lyrics threatening violence have seen an uptick in religious festivals in the area in the last three years.
“The procession was taken out on the night of September 9. According to eyewitnesses, at 2 am, the procession with hundreds of participants passed by the Gulbarga Mehbus Masjid. Locals allege that the sound system continued playing these songs in the area till 4 am. Even the police tried to stop the DJs but the organisers did not cooperate with the police,” Mohammed Wajid Ahmed, a local who first tweeted asking police to take action, told The Wire.
"Khoon Se Iss Dharthi Ko Ham Nehlayenge, Hum Tujhko Teri Awkat Batayenge." Song was played during #GaneshChaturthi procession in front of Gulbarga Mehbus Masjid. pic.twitter.com/NMAwGA4AHA
— Mohammed Irshad (@Shaad_Bajpe) September 11, 2022
In the immediate aftermath of them being shared, many cited guidelines issued by the Karnataka government on the use of sound systems and pandals during Ganesh Chaturthi.
Chandu Patil, a local Bharatiya Janata Party leader and the son of BJP Member of Legislative Council, B.G. Patil, had openly challenged the police department of Gulbarga to take action against him as he had said he would not follow government guidelines on using sound systems.
“The Gulbarga police has refused to give written permission to play Dolby and DJ music in public. What we should do? It’s our religion, we have to play [music mixed by a] DJ, we have to dance, we have decided it. If they want to file a case, let them file it. I am the mandal [local] in-charge, let them file a case against me first,” Chandu Patil had said on video a few days before the procession.
Such a video was tweeted ahead of the procession.
Any Sound System will be Permitted within the specified Limits as per Government Order. Violators will be dealt with appropriate action as per Law . pic.twitter.com/2MP8WYoijg
— Kalaburagi City Police (@KlbCityPolice) September 7, 2022
Patil was seen in one of the videos, dancing on the truck which was carrying the DJ’s turntable and speakers.
As online outrage grew, Gulbarga police tweeted saying violators will be dealt with.
Aleem Ilah, a Muslim activist from town who had been actively tweeting against the episode told The Wire that initially the police had maintained that the videos on social media were old and apparently from Ram Navami, earlier this year.
“But local accounts and CCTV footage from the camera of the mosque refuted police’s initial claim. Then reports said the videos were indeed from the Ganesh Chaturthi procession on September 9,” he said, adding that he even provided proof to police of the same.
The FIR invoked different sections of IPC including sections 188 and 295-A. The FIR also mentions Section 103 (penalty for contravention of orders under section 31) of the Karnataka Police Act 1963.
“Around 2 pm Bhovi Samaj Ganesh Mandal president Tukarama Mahendrakar, vice-president Ambresh Bhovi and others led the Ganesh Chaturthi procession close to the Supermarket Mehbus Masjid and played provocative songs with an intention of hurting the religious sentiments of a particular community,” the FIR says in Kannada.
“Even though the loudspeaker licence period had expired the organisers did not stop playing the songs, and continued the procession breaking the rules set by Karnataka government and played sound systems in a manner disturbing the public. Even though the police asked them to lower the sound and stop playing songs they did not cooperate with the police and continue to play DJ songs,” the FIR notes.
The videos of the procession were first shared by several Hindutva group members through WhatsApp. YouTube channels which usually share Hindutva content also uploaded the videos. Later people, opposed to the procession, put out the videos on Twitter and asked for police action against the organisers.
“We respect all the religious festivals. Religious festivals must be celebrated by uniting people and not dividing people. What will they achieve by playing such hateful and provocative songs? They could have played songs that would spread love between communities while passing by the Masjid. Hindus and Muslims have lived for ages as brothers in Gulbarga. These kinds of gestures will only create problems between communities. This should not be encouraged,” said Ilyas Bagban, a member of the Mehbus Masjid committee.
Bagban said, “Police has done its duty to an extent but we further demand police to arrest those culprits.”
In nearby Shahbad, police have registered an FIR against the organisers of Bharat Chowk Ganesh Mandali for using a loud sound system and breaking rules. They have been booked under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and the Section 109 of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963.