Central Crime Branch (CCB) sleuths raided a house at Hegde Nagar, north of the violence-hit D.J. Halli, late on Saturday night and arrested eight youngsters, most of whom are allegedly workers of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). The police have also arrested a man named Saleem, who is said to have played a key role in organising the mob that gathered outside the D.J. Halli police station. “He had sent messages on WhatsApp groups calling upon people to gather in front of the police station,” a senior officer said.
With these arrests, the total number of detentions and arrests has risen to 309. A total of 52 FIRs have been registered in connection with the violence. Of those detained, three have tested positive for COVID-19. The investigation has been able to not only uncover messages on messaging apps and social media platforms used to organise the mob, but also pinpoint those who provided logistical support such as fuel supply to the rioters to indulge in large-scale arson, a senior police officer added.
Several women gathered outside D.J. Halli and K.G. Halli police stations on Sunday morning, alleging that their sons, husbands and brothers had been wrongfully detained by the police. Many of them were seen breaking down, pleading with the police to let go of their “innocent” male relatives. The women alleged that the police had indiscriminately picked up young men from the areas surrounding the sites of violence. “We have been victimised just because we are staying in this area,” one of them told presspersons. Another woman alleged that the police had picked up her son who was both visually and mentally challenged. “How could he have perpetrated any violence?” she asked.
Meanwhile, senior police officers maintained that they were detaining suspects, interrogating them, and arresting only those against whom they could find credible evidence, either in the form of mobile location, calls, chats, or sighting in video footage. “The rest will be let go,” he said.
T. Pavan Kumar, father of P. Naveen Kumar, whose derogatory social media post against Islam triggered the riots, has lodged a complaint against unidentified individuals for vandalising and torching his house on the night of August 11. His son, who has been arrested for the derogatory post, has reportedly changed his version of the story multiple times. “Hours after his post triggered unrest, Naveen deleted it and claimed that his Facebook account was hacked. But investigation clearly indicated that the post was indeed made from his phone. He later claimed that he was careless with his phone and one of his acquaintances may have made the post through his account. However, there is no evidence that someone else was in possession of his phone that evening,” a senior officer said.