Three dead after protests over a social media post turn violent in Bengaluru

Published : August 12, 2020 14:03 IST

The vehicles that were set on fire by the protesters near the D.J. Halli police station premises on the night of August 11. Photo: Sudhakara Jain

Three people were killed in police firing on the night of August 11 after a mob of Muslim men who were protesting against a derogatory post on Facebook went on the rampage in the D.J. Halli police station limits in north Bengaluru. The mob of more than 1,000 people targeted the house of the local MLA R. Akhanda Srinivasamurthy, and it was partially burnt. Several vehicles in the area were also set on fire.

Members of the mob alleged that P. Naveen, the nephew of the MLA, had insulted Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, in a post on Facebook. Naveen, who has been arrested, claimed that his phone was hacked and that he was not responsible for that particular post. His Facebook account was deactivated last night.

A large group of men began gathering at the D.J. Halli police station at around 7 p.m. on August 11 demanding Naveen’s arrest. When the group felt that the police were delaying the filing of their complaint, it went berserk at around 8.30 p.m. The situation was brought under control at around 2 a.m. The police claim that they had to open fire to control the situation and that three people have died in the firing. Several policemen, estimates vary between 30 and 80, have also been injured.

The two Muslim MLAs of Bengaluru, B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan and Rizwan Arshad, and other senior religious leaders rushed to the site to control the situation. Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been imposed in D.J. Halli, K.J. Halli and Shivajinagar police station limits as a precautionary measure.

Akhanda Srinivasamurthy is a Congress MLA from Pulakeshinagar, which is a reserved constituency. The sprawling constituency has a substantial number of Muslims and Dalits, and Srinivasamurthy had won by the largest margin in the State in the 2018 Assembly election. Srinivasamurthy put out a hasty video last night where he appealed for peace and assured his Muslim brothers “that the guilty person, whoever it is, will be brought to justice as per the provisions of the law”. BJP leader Ashwath Narayan Gowda claimed that the whole incident was a planned conspiracy by certain Muslim groups as “they want to create anarchy as they were dismayed by the bhumi pujan at Ayodhya.”

Heartwarming scenes also emerged last night when a group of Muslim youth held hands to form a cordon around a temple close to the police station so that no damage was done to the structure in the melee.

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