We will recommend ban on SDPI for Bengaluru violence: Karnataka Home Minister

Published : August 14, 2020 16:24 IST

Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj S. Bommai speaking to the media in Udupi on August12. Photo: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

In conversations with mediapersons on Aug. 13, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj S. Bommai blamed the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) for the violence that took place in D. J. Halli and K. J. Halli in north Bengaluru on the night of August 11. “The role of the SDPI has emerged in the violence that took place on Tuesday night in Bengaluru. Our investigation into that party’s role is continuing and we [Karnataka government] will also recommend to the Central government that the organisation be banned,” Bommai stated.

Bommai added that the Home Ministry’s investigation will also take under its purview previous allegations against the SDPI of instigating violence in Mangaluru, where the party has a strong base, while recommending that the organisation be banned.

The Minister said the government had video evidence confirming the role of SDPI cadre in the rampage that took place after the police delayed the filing of a first information report (FIR) following a defamatory post on Facebook by the nephew of Pulakeshinagar MLA R. Akhanda Srinivasamurthy. Three people died in police firing as the law enforcement authorities tried to bring the situation under control. The MLA’s house was set on fire and several vehicles parked in the D. J. Halli and K. J. Halli police stations were burnt. The mob also targeted the house of P. Naveen, who is alleged to have made the derogatory post against Prophet Muhammad. His mother who was in the house escaped narrowly thanks to local Muslim youth who helped her.

Police officials confirmed that 147 youth were arrested following the violence, of which 10 of the main accused, including Muzammil Pasha, belonged to the SDPI. While Naveen has been charged under two sections of the Indian Penal Code (Sections 153 [A] and 253 [A]), the rioters have been charged under seven sections of the IPC including Section 307 (Attempt to Murder). Elyas Muhammad Thumbe, State president of the SDPI, has refuted the allegations against the organisation.

The SDPI is the political offshoot of the Popular Front of India (PFI). The PFI is a Muslim identity-based social movement that is popular in coastal Karnataka and north Kerala. It also has pockets of influence in urban areas like Mysuru in Karnataka and a marginal presence in other parts of the country. Lately, it has tried to increase its influence in Bengaluru. The political turf war for the votes of Muslims in north Bengaluru is also being cited as a reason for the violence.

On the same day that Bommai stated that the SDPI was involved in the violence, an embarrassing video emerged where the Home Minister could be seen and heard reassuring Sharan Pumpwell, a leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in coastal Karnataka. “Whatever criminal cases are booked against you, I will see to it that they are withdrawn,” he told the VHP leader in the video.

Former Home Minister and senior Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy said, “the RSS and the SDPI are two sides of the same coin”. “When I was Home Minister, I was aware of the activities of the SDPI in coastal Karnataka,” he added.