Six arrested for attack on RSS activist after pro-CAA rally in Bengaluru

The six accused, who have been arrested, are alleged SDPI activists.

The six accused, who have been arrested, are alleged SDPI activists.   | Photo Credit: By Special Arrangement

Hindu leaders at the rally, attended by Tejasvi Surya and Chakravarthy Sulibele, were targets: Bhaskar Rao

City police have arrested six activists allegedly associated with the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) for the attack on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist Varun Bhoopalam, 31, on December 22, shortly after a pro-CAA rally near Town Hall.

City police commissioner Bhaskar Rao said at a press conference that the alleged SDPI activists had also planned to kill leaders at the rally, but were deterred by the heavy police presence at the rally, prompting them to attack Mr. Bhoopalam in Kalasipalya on his way back home.

Bengaluru South BJP MP Tejasvi Surya and Yuva Brigade founder and BJP supporter Chakravarthy Sulibele were at the rally. But the commissioner did not explicitly name the duo as targets and only said they had come to target “Hindu leaders at the venue”.

Mr. Surya had made an unscheduled stop at the rally and hence he was not the specific target, but once he was there the gang wanted to attack him, a senior police official said. Mr. Surya, talking to mediapersons, said Mr. Rao called him on Thursday night and informed him of the conspiracy.

“The city police have provided me with a gunman,” he said. “As a member of Parliament, he is eligible for additional security, which he has been given. On Mr. Sulibele, the jurisdictional police will take a call,” Mr. Rao said.

The arrested have been identified as: Mohammed Irfan, 33, a tailor; Syed Akbar, 46, a mechanic; Sanaulla Sherief, 28, an electrician – all residents of RT Nagar; Syed Siddique Akbar, 30, a civil contractor and a resident of Lingarajapuram; Akbar Basha, 27, a delivery boy with an e-commerce firm and a resident of KG Halli; and Sadiq Ul Amin, 39, a sound system rental shopkeeper and resident of Shivajinagar.

“All the accused are associated with SDPI and they are being paid ₹10,000 every month. We will now probe as to who was financing them. All of them are fundamentalists. But several Muslim religious and political leaders have helped us in this investigation and want them arrested. Only these men and the organisation are involved. We don’t want the community to be tarnished with the same brush,” Mr. Rao said.

Arrested people are not our activists: SDPI

Ilyas Tumbe, spokesperson of SDPI, Karnataka, has denied that any of the six arrested are associated with the organisation. He alleged that the arrest and linking it to the SDPI was a “diversionary tactic” to tarnish the anti-CAA protests in the State.

“The party is unnecessarily being dragged in the mud. We are a mainstream registered political party contesting elections across the country. We abide by the Constitution and do not subscribe to any form of violence. The party is in no way involved in this attack,” said Akram Hassan, Secretary, SDPI, Karnataka.

Attack organised, pre-mediated, says police commissioner

The attack on the ‘India for CAA’ rally was “organised and pre-meditated”, city police commissioner Bhaskar Rao said on Saturday.

The gang of six men, now arrested, met around 5.30 a.m. at Richards Park on December 22 and moved towards Town Hall, the venue of the rally, on three bikes, one of them stolen. They had smeared black soot on the number plates to ensure they are not detected. “All six of them were wearing saffron kurtas to ensure they merged into the pro-CAA rally crowd,” Mr. Rao said.

“Their plan was to pelt stones on the crowd to create chaos. They thought this would disperse the crowd leaving the leaders isolated when they would kill them,” he said. The gang did pelt seven stones on the crowd, of which one fell near a person, but the gathering was so large it did not affect the crowd and did not come to the notice of the policemen as well, the commissioner said.

“As their plan failed, the gang wanted to kill any of the workers who attended the rally. They followed Varun Bhoopalam, who was on his way home on a Bounce bike. They attacked him near Kalasipalya and fled towards Bidadi. In fact, two of them returned to see if the man had indeed died. But by then Varun was shifted to Victoria Hospital and later survived,” Mr. Rao said.

The accused had worn multiple shirts to avoid being identified. They have burnt some of the clothes they had worn and threw the weapons used in the attack into Anchepalya lake near NICE Road, and helmets into a lake in Ramamurthy Nagar, he said. “We analysed footage from 700 CCTV cameras along the path of Town Hall to the scene of crime to identify the accused,” Mr. Rao said.

The police commissioner said the case needs to be probed further to uncover the larger conspiracy behind the gang including their funding. “The case will be probed by Anti-Terror Squad of Central Crime Branch,” he said.

We have begun the process to ban PFI, SDPI: Bommai

Alleging that the Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) had a role in recent incidents of terror and violence in Karnataka, the State government on Friday said it had commenced the process of banning these organisations.

Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai told a press conference here that a few other organisations were also likely to face a ban along with PFI and SDPI.

“There are a set of procedures to be followed before seeking a ban on any organisation such as collecting evidence regarding their unlawful activities. We have directed all the authorities concerned to submit such evidence and materials. Once this process is complete, we will forward them to the Centre for suitable action. We will also hold consultations with the Law Department on the procedures to be followed depending upon the nature of evidence that we get,” Mr. Bommai said.

Describing PFI and SDPI as “political faces” of banned terrorist organisations like SIMI, the Home Minister alleged that they were trying to re-emerge by changing their names.

He alleged that these organisations were carrying out their activities in Karnataka for the last seven to eight years. However, the last few episodes including the busting of a suspected terror module in Bengaluru by the Tamil Nadu police along with the Central Crime Branch (CCB) had brought the focus on the need for banning these organisations, he maintained.

Uttar Pradesh too was in the process of taking serious action against such organisations, he added.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 3:04:05 AM |

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