Police arrest three including gram panchayat president

Tension prevailed here after stones were thrown at the Jumma Masjid in the early hours of Wednesday.

Hours before this incident, around 10.30 p.m. on Tuesday, Mohammed Iqbal (31), who was returning after attending his friend Rohit’s ‘mehendi’ function at Kelanejar, was attacked by 20 youths allegedly belonging to one Sangh Parivar organisation. They came on motorcycles and assaulted him with rods and a sickle.

A severely injured Mr. Iqbal was rushed to the district government hospital here, where he is undergoing treatment. A broker dealing with second hand vehicles and real estate, he is a Congress activist also.

It is not clear if both the incidents are related, but some suspect that they are.

The police have arrested three persons in connection with the assault.

Nejar village comes under the Kallianpur Gram Panchayat and is about 8 km from Udupi, en route to Padutonse Bengre village (about 18 km from Udupi), where there was tension after activists of Hindutva organisations objected to a Muslim family possessing a three-year-old bull on March 19.

Mr. Iqbal told The Hindu that it was the activists of the Sangh Parivar, including the president of the Kallianpur Gram Panchayat, Satish Naik, who assaulted him.

He said the group was present at the ‘mehendi’ function and his affiliation to the Congress was the reason behind the attack.

After the church attack incident at Padutonse Bengre, a policeman was put on duty at the mosque as well. However, after the assault on Mr. Iqbal, he went to the district government hospital. There was no one on guard when stones were pelted at the mosque.

This is not the first time that stones have been pelted at the mosque.

A similar incident was reported after the terrorist attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008. Members of the Muslim community said that though a police complaint was lodged, no one was arrested.

M.B. Boralingaiah, Superintendent of Police, said that past enmity appeared to be the reason behind the attack on Mr. Iqbal. Three persons, including Mr. Naik, Praveen and Prashanth, have been arrested in connection with the incident.

“We are not sure the three are activists of the Sangh Parivar. Some persons who attended the ‘mehendi’ function were apparently drunk and might have pelted stones at the mosque. It cannot be said with certainty that the group which assaulted the youth also threw stones at the mosque,” he said.

Security

A platoon of District Armed Reserve Force had been pressed into service outside the mosque. M. Jayanth, sub-inspector attached to Malpe police station, said the three accused were produced in a court in Udupi and had been remanded in judicial custody till April 17.

We have been living in harmony for years’

Staff Correspondent

Residents of this village, about 8 km from Udupi, vouch for harmony among people of all communities.

They view Wednesday’s incident of stone pelting at the Jumma Masjid as a deliberate attempt to disturb peace. A retired teacher, who did not want to be named, said the people in the village had been living harmoniously for decades. “When I suffered a heart attack nearly 30 years ago, it was my Muslim neighbour who rushed me to a private hospital in Udupi. I have lived here for over seven decades,” he said.

Assembly polls

An elderly woman in the village said: “All these things are happening just because of the Assembly elections. These are acts of a few misguided youth.”

“Only a few activists of the Sangh Parivar want to create a problem between Hindus and Muslims. They are a very tiny minority. Our relations with communities have been very good,” said a youth.

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