New Delhi: A mob estimated to be a thousand strong attacked a Congress MLA’s house in Bengaluru’s Pulakeshi Nagar on Tuesday night and vandalised two police stations. The police fired at the crowd and three people were killed. The situation was brought under control around 1 am, and over 100 people have reportedly been arrested.
According to the police, the mob gathered after a relative of MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy’s, P. Naveen, posted a communal and derogatory post on social media about Prophet Muhammad. Murthy’s house was vandalised and vehicles parked outside were damaged. The crowd then attacked two police stations – KG Halli and DJ Halli – pelting stones at the police and even trying to burn them down, according to the New Indian Express, demanding that Naveen be arrested.
According to the News Minute, Naveen has claimed that the post on his Facebook account was not by him, and his account had been hacked into. He had been detained by the police for questioning.
Several policemen were injured, the newspaper reported, and police opened fire at the crowd. Three people were killed in the police firing and another three-four people were injured.
After learning about the incident, the Bengaluru police commissioner Kamal Pant rushed to the spot, but his intervention reportedly did not stop the mob. Later, the Bengaluru police tweeted that it had to lathi-charge the mob, lob tear gas and finally open fire to control them. “Without choice, we were forced to fire in air. At least 60 cops are injured,” Pant told the Times of India.
Curfew has been imposed in the Banaswadi police sub-division, and Section 144 imposed across the city.
The News Minute reported that journalists from Kannada news channel Suvarna News were also allegedly attacked by the mob. Reporters’ cameras were smashed and two staffers were injured, and are currently receiving treatment.
An India Today reporter has said his team was attacked by the police even after saying they are journalists. There was no mob present where they were, he said. The News Minute has said one of their reporters was also attacked by the police.
@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
The MLA and his family escaped unhurt, but fire has damaged large parts of their house. Later, Murthy appealed to people to not resort to violence. “I am appealing to my Muslim brethren that we should not resort to violence for 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. I appeal to Muslim friends to be calm,” he said in a video message.
Home minister Basavaraj Bommai said riots and arson are against law and said that he has given the police a “free hand” to contain the violence. He also released a video appealing for peace. “Whatever the issue is, we will investigate it, but vandalism is not the solution. We have deployed additional forces. I have given cops a free hand to handle the situation. However powerful the guilty are, we will take action. But people must not take the law into their hands,” he said.
Several Muslim leaders also released videos appealing for peace. According to some reports, local Muslims also gathered to form a protective human chain around a temple in the area, so the mob doesn’t attack it.
That’s the beauty of India
Muslims created human chain to guard a Temple in #Bengaluru during violence.
Stay calm make peace #BengaluruViolence
— 𝗠𝘂𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗱 𝗡𝘂𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗶𝗿 💞 ( نُعَمِّرْ ) (@iam_nuammir) August 11, 2020
Congress MLA and former minister B.Z. 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.
Shivajinagar MLA Rizwan Arshad told The News Minute that the situation has been brought under control. “A lot of people gathered here and we (Chamrajpet MLA and former minister BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan) got a call from the local DCP to reach the spot and pacify the crowd. We came here to control the crowd but few people took law into their own hands, which is unfortunate,” he said.
Arshad also asked for stringent action against Naveen for his post. “We want the strictest punishment, not because he has posted a derogatory message but he has tried to deliberately create a law and order issue and enmity between two communities.”
While condemning the violence, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said it was important not to vilify an entire community based on the actions of some people. He highlighted how the local temple had been protected.
Those who incited and perpetrated the #bangaloreriots must be found, arrested & given exemplary punishment. But they are not to be equated with an entire community any more than thugs & vigilantes represent all Hindus. This also happened in Bangalore: https://t.co/TCrfo6kU7k
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 12, 2020
(With PTI inputs)