Shimoga and Hassan cities witnessed widespread violence on Monday following protests by Muslim organisations against the publication of an article in the Sunday magazine section of a Kannada daily.

The article is a translation of an essay by Bangladeshi writer Tasleema Nasreen on the wearing of the burkha by Muslim women, and contains remarks that could be considered religiously insensitive and provocative.

Shimoga was by far the worst affected. The protests spiralled out of control resulting in the death of two persons, one of them in police firing. Several persons were injured and there was large-scale destruction of property in different parts of the city. Police reports stated that at least 15 two-wheelers, three autorickshaws and a large number of shops in the main market areas were set on fire. It is stated that three persons with bullet wounds were admitted to the McGann Hospital in a serious condition. A person manning a telephone booth on Nehru Road was seriously injured when a petrol bomb was thrown at him. He was admitted to the private hospital in a serious condition.

Reporters and photographers were at the receiving end of angry protesters who pelted stones injuring several of them seriously.The situation in Shimoga continues to be tense despite imposition of a curfew and prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Schools closed

The police were taken by surprise by the sudden eruption of violence and could not bring the situation under control immediately as the force was inadequate. The city continues to be tense. Schools and colleges have been ordered to be closed tomorrow as a precautionary measure.

In Hassan too the district administration clamped Section 144 in the city for three days following the outbreak of violence, with schools and colleges, and the weekly market closed on Tuesday.