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After Delaying Action on Complaint, Bengaluru Police Probes Role of SDPI in Violence

The police have so far arrested over 145 people, including MLA Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy's nephew, whose Facebook post triggered protests and violence.

New Delhi: The Bengaluru police are now probing the role of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), a political unit that is trying to become a formidable voice in the Muslim-dominated areas of Karnataka, in the violence that rocked eastern parts of the city following an allegedly derogatory post on Prophet Mohammad by the nephew of a Congress legislator.

Following a Facebook post by P. Naveen, nephew of MLA Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy, an enraged mob went on a rampage on Tuesday. It attacked Murthy’s house and set afire vehicles parked in the basement and on the streets outside. Another group also pelted stones in the Kaval Byrasandra area.

As the mob learnt that Naveen had been taken to Devara Jeevana Halli police station, it reached there and demanded that he be handed over. When the demand was turned down, it also attacked the police station. The police responded by opening fire which led to the death of three people.

It has been reported that the police, which has arrested at least 145 people, including the legislator’s nephew, are now probing the role of SDPI in the violence. The officers posted at D.J. Halli station have stated that a delegation of SDPI visited the station on Tuesday evening to lodge a complaint about the post. However, as the police delayed filing an FIR, word went around that the accused was being held in the police station.

At this, a police officer said, “they began demanding that the suspect be handed over. Soon, the situation went out of hand. We have video footage to link SDPI activists to the violence.” About 50 police personnel had suffered minor injuries in the attack.

Also read: Bangalore: Three Killed in Police Firing After Mob Vandalises MLA’s House

The police later learnt through an SDPI activist, Jaffar Ahmed, that the delegation was led by a local leader Muzammil Pasha, who too was later arrested. However, Ahmed denied that Pasha had any role in the violence.

The newspaper report quoted Inspect Keshava Murthy of D.J. Halli station as saying that a case has been registered “based on the complaint against Naveen and he was arrested. We are investigating the role of SDPI.”

Meanwhile, SDPI general secretary Abdul Hannan has accused the police of not taking prompt action on the complaint and allowing the situation to escalate. “When complaints were filed at 7 pm at the station, the Inspector and ACP asked us to wait. Even by 11.30 pm, police had not arrested the culprit. This led to worsening of the situation,” he charged.

The Congress has in the meantime accused the BJP of fomenting violence to discredit it. Its leader D.K. Shivakumar claimed that the MLA’s nephew was associated with the BJP and had supported it on social media.

Murthy, who claimed that his house was attacked by “over 3,000 people armed with sharp weapons, sticks, rods and petrol bombs”, also insisted that he had had no ties with his nephew for close to a decade now.

Independent observers too believe that the violence could be a ploy to discredit and target Murthy, who had won by won by over 80,000 votes from the Muslim-dominated constituency in 2018. A social worker Shafi Ahmed was quoted by the newspaper as saying that “this incident may be part of efforts to discredit Murthy and help another politician who has lost ground in the area”.

Meanwhile, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa has stated that a magisterial probe would be conducted into the violence. State home minister Basavaraj Bommai has for his part noted that “there are reports that the violence is a fallout of rivalry among local political groups”. But, he said, he would “not comment till an investigation is done”.