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2000-strong mob goes on rampage in Bengaluru; 3 killed as police open fire

Policemen looking at the vehicles which was set on fire by miscreants at DJ Halli police station premises late on Tuesday night, in Bengaluru.

Policemen looking at the vehicles which was set on fire by miscreants at DJ Halli police station premises late on Tuesday night, in Bengaluru.   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

The violence that broke out in DJ Halli and adjoining areas in east Bengaluru on Tuesday night over an inflammatory Facebook post against Islam left three dead and three others injured after the police fired on the mob. Rioting, where as many as 2,000 people were on the streets vandalising and setting property afire, was brought under control in the early hours of Wednesday.

 

Prohibitory orders have been put in force and the situation is tense but under control, said the police. A total of 146 people, including a few local leaders from the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), have been arrested so far.

As the rioters turned against the police, at least 38 policemen were injured and several vehicles and properties, including the DJ Halli Police Station, vandalised and torched. Two media personnel were also injured.

Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa held a review meeting on Wednesday and ordered a probe by a District Executive Magistrate into the incident. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that, prima facie, the violence “seems organised”.

P. Naveen Kumar, a nephew of Pulikeshi Nagar Congress MLA R. Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy, had allegedly put up an inflammatory post on his Facebook account on Tuesday evening. As word spread in the community, a crowd of nearly 200 persons gathered outside the DJ Halli Police Station demanding his arrest. Muzammil Pasha, a local SDPI leader, lodged a complaint.

 

Simultaneously, as many as 1,000 people gathered outside the house of Mr. Srinivasa Murthy. At both sites, the mob turned violent, demanding Mr. Naveen Kumar be handed over to them, even as the police arrested and shifted him to an undisclosed location.

The crowd tried to unsuccessfully enter the police quarters in KG Halli. They also torched the MLA’s house and Mr. Naveen’s residence, both in Kaval Byrasandra. Mr. Srinivasa Murthy was not at home at the time.

The police lobbed tear gas shells, but when this failed to control the mob, they opened fire at around midnight. Three men were killed and three others sustained bullet wound injuries. “It is sad that we had to open fire to bring the situation under control,” said Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant. The deceased have been identified as Yasin Basha (19), Wajid (18), and Sheikh Sadique (26), all residents of DJ Halli. One of the deceased has tested positive for COVID-19.

Even as the mob, mostly from the minority community, went on a rampage, others from the same community were actively trying to pacify the mob. A video of a group of youth forming a human chain to prevent the mob from attacking a local temple, has gone viral and earned praise. “Thankfully, the riots did not snowball into a communal riot,” a senior police officer said. “It can be compared to the violent protests and riots in December 1986 over a short story published in a local English daily that was taken to be offensive to the Prophet Mohammed,” the officer said.

While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) blamed the SDPI for the violence, the latter has said it was being unnecessarily dragged into the issue. Lack of timely police action is to be blamed for escalation of the situation, said SDPI leaders. The Congress has appealed for calm.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 1:21:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/at-least-three-killed-in-police-firing-as-riots-break-out-over-fb-post-in-bengaluru/article32331790.ece

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