With the arrest of another Hindutva activist on Tuesday in connection with the hoisting of a Pakistani flag in front of the Tahsildar office at Sindagi in Karnataka on January 1, the number of persons held by the police for what they believe was a plot to foment communal strife has increased to seven.
The arrested are members of Sri Ram Sene, a pro-Hindutva outfit. According to the police, they allegedly hoisted the Pakistani flag and then blamed it on the town's Muslim community. The accused were shifted to the Bellary district prison on Sunday morning as other inmates of the Bijapur district jail allegedly attacked them for being involved in “anti-national activities.”
Rakesh Math, the prime accused, was seriously injured in the fracas, and the remaining sustained minor injuries.
Meanwhile, members of the district unit of Sri Ram Sene have said the accused do not belong to their outfit but are members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
At a press conference here, they released several pictures to prove their point, alleging that the police had been pressured not to drag the name of the RSS into the issue.
Well-placed police sources, however, told The Hindu that the entire incident was carried out at the behest of an elected representative of the BJP, whose political agenda was to foment communal disturbances in the district. The sources added that the elected representative had instructed his supporters to destroy all evidence of his involvement, including photographs of the protesters and the banners of the organisation.
The Pakistani flag was hoisted in the early hours of January 1. Later in the morning, the accused, led by Rakesh Math, organised a protest in front of the Tahsildar's office, alleging that the Muslim community was behind the incident. The protesters blocked the road and hurled stones at buses before the police enforced order.
The police then formed a special team to investigate the matter.
It concluded that the Sri Ram Sene activists who organised the protests were behind the incident. They arrested the six ringleaders on January 3 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for sedition and inciting communal disturbance.
As a precautionary measure, the district administration has banned rallies, protests and dharnas in connection with the issue.