POST ABOUT PROPHET MUHAMMAD TRIGGERS RIOTS IN BENGALURU, 3 KILLED AS POLICE OPENS FIRE
Three persons were killed and three others grievously injured after the Bengaluru Police opened fire to control riots that broke out late Tuesday after protests erupted over a social media post allegedly insulting Prophet Muhammad.
Angry mobs went on a rampage in the Kaval Byrasandra area to protest against the Facebook post, allegedly put up by P. Naveen, nephew of Pulakeshinagar MLA Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy of the Congress.
Residents began sharing the “offensive” post through messages, and soon, close to 600 people gathered near the Pulakeshinagar police station demanding justice. Crowds also gathered outside Murthy’s residence, shouting slogans and demanding the arrest of Naveen, who claimed that his account was hacked. The now-deleted post has been retrieved and the police have arrested him to conduct a detailed investigation.
According to the police, the angry mob then resorted to arson and began setting vehicles on fire. Police sources said the mob arrived at Murthy’s residence armed with lathis, iron rods and sharp metal objects to try and barge in. The MLA was not present at home when the rampage took place.
Section 144 of the CrPC, which prohibits the assembly of more than five people, has now been imposed across the city. Police commissioner Kamal Pant said 110 people have been arrested for arson, stone pelting and assault on police.
Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said in a video message sent to the media: “Whatever be the issue, it will be thoroughly investigated. Vandalism is not the solution. The guilty, however powerful, will be brought to book. I have given the police a free hand to handle the situation.”
In a tweet Wednesday morning, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said the violence was unacceptable, and that the perpetrators would be booked.
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Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant also spoke to the media after the situation was brought under control, saying there was a heavy police presence in the riot-hit areas. Pant said an additional commissioner of police was attacked and large-scale property damage has been reported.
Two deaths were reported initially before commissioner Pant confirmed a third.
According to senior police officers, more than 20 vehicles were torched by the mob, while the vehicle of DCP (north division) Bheemshankar Guled was also attacked.
A senior police officer, who did not want to be identified, explained that they tried to control the crowds through a lathi-charge first. But the crowds refused to back down and began attacking policemen and their vehicles. Despite several warnings to calm down, the rioters continued their rampage, forcing the police to lob tear gas shells and open fire when the crowds came charging at them.
Sources said the situation allegedly went out of hand when an irate group of people landed at the police station demanding Naveen’s arrest. The police asked the people to try and sort the situation out amicably, which allegedly angered them.
Several Congress leaders condemned the incident on Twitter, and MLA Murthy himself also released a video, appealing for calm and reassuring the public that the miscreant behind the post had been booked.
Risk of Covid spread
This is the second riot that has broken out in Bengaluru in the span of four months. On 19 April, violence had erupted in Padarayanapura after residents who were secondary contacts of a deceased Covid-19 patient refused to accompany the Bengaluru municipal team for quarantine at night.
A mob surrounded the police that had been brought in to control the situation, leading to the arrest of 126 people allegedly involved in the violence. This also led to numerous new Covid-19 cases, and the administration had a tough time containing the spread.
The police told ThePrint that in Kaval Byrasandara too, several people were neither maintaining social distance nor wearing masks, leading to a higher risk of the spread of the virus.
“We wanted to ensure that the violence was controlled. But now we worry what
would happen, because many of our policemen too were infected in Padarayanapura,” said another officer who did not want to be named.