Karnataka: Ram Sene Mob, Led by BJP Union Minister, Clashes With Muslim Group at Shared Dargah

Anticipating tensions on the day, the Karnataka police had imposed Section 144 of the CrPC, which the mob reportedly failed to heed.

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New Delhi: The Karnataka police arrested 167 Muslim residents of Aland, a town in the state’s Kalaburagi district, and registered five First Information Reports (FIR) following communal tensions between at a local dargah between Hindu and Muslim groups on Tuesday, March 1, the Indian Express reported

Right-wing activists of the Shree Ram Sene had earlier announced their intentions to hold a ‘purification’ puja at the Raghava Chaitanya Shivalinga in the Ladle Mashak Dargah on March 1 to mark Mahashivratri and supposedly ‘cleanse’ an insult from November last year.

On the same day, the dargah authorities had planned a sandaal procession and a Shab-e-Barat, a religious ceremony meant to remember the deceased, the Hindu reported.

Foreseeing a conflict, the Karnataka police had imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in the district from February 27 – March 3 in the region and barred members of all communities from accessing the dargah on Tuesday.

Shree Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik, Sene state president Siddalinga Swamy, right-wing activist Chaitra Kundapur and others known for making inflammatory speeches were barred from entering Kalaburagi.

Despite the orders, a group of activists from the Hindu outfit, joined by BJP Union minister Bhagwanth Khuba, BJP MLA from Aland Subhash Guttedar, other BJP MLAs Rajkumar Patil Telkur and Basavaraj Mattimadu and BJP State vice-president Malikayya Guttedar launched a procession for the dargah.

Union minister Bhagwanth Khuba with Prime Minister Modi. Photo: Twitter/ bhagwanthkhuba.

The procession was stopped Tuesday morning by the police, but the mob reportedly refused to heed the prohibitory orders in place. To placate the mob, the police offered to allow ten individuals to offer prayers at the Shivalinga, however, the mob objected and proceeded to sit on dharna at a nearby bus stand.

Upon hearing of the gathering of the mob, local Muslims reportedly gathered outside the dargah and attempted to break the barricades, according to the police. According to the report by the Hindu, they questioned authorities as to why the prohibitory orders applied only to Muslims and they, too, refused the offer to allow ten members from the right-wing group to offer prayers.

Stone pelting reportedly ensued thereafter in which three vehicles; belonging to the deputy commissioner, superintendent and assistant commissioner of police respectively, were damaged.

The conflict led local business owners to shutter their shops, disrupted transport and brought the region to a standstill.

Eventually, a compromise was reached and ten members from each group were allowed to enter the premises of the shared dargah and offer their prayers. According to the police, there rituals went off peacefully from that point on.

However, all the cases registered after the conflict were against Muslims for collecting stones and weapons and displaying them, in anticipation of violence.

“The Muslims were ready to react in case of violence. They had gathered weapons and displayed them in public. Cases were registered for stone-throwing and preparation for an attack as a result,” the Express quoted a police official as saying.

Reports also emerged of two casualties in the conflict, which the police categorically denied.