Four platoons of the Karnataka State Reserve Police, four from district reserve police and numerous local police officers are keeping a vigil over Bhatkal town in Uttara Kannada, which is limping back to normality after a series of incidents recently took a communal and violent turn.
Police said the situation in the town was tense till Monday, but it has cooled down on Tuesday. The numerous platoons of the reserve police will continue to keep a close watch. The series of incidents put the district police on their toes. They held peace meetings between religious leaders on Sunday and Monday.
The trouble started on Saturday night, around 8 p.m., when two boys from a minority community were allegedly attacked by a group of five people at Hasarkere in Bhatkal town. “The boys were seeing a video, and the group of men believed the boys were swearing at them. This misunderstanding turned violent,” said Bhatkal police.
Even as groups from both communities gathered there an hour later, Abdul Rahim, who was travelling on a bike, was assaulted by a group of 20 people at the same place.
While a series of hastily called meetings between religious groups calmed the situation to an extent, the tension reappeared after meat and bones – reported to be from cattle – was found in a ‘Naga Bana’, considered holy for Hindus, Sunday morning at Bhatkal old bus stand.
Hindu groups called for a Bhatkal bandh to protest this. In all, four cases have been filed in these incidents and nine persons arrested on Monday. However, there have been no arrests in the Naga Bana case.
“Whatever happens in Bhatkal, we have to be vigilant,” said Assistant Superintendent of Police (Bhatkal) C.H. Sudhir Kumar Reddy, who added the demographics of the town made it volatile and susceptible to communal flare ups.