D.J. Halli violence: Arrest of councillor’s husband leads to more political slugfest

August 14, 2020 10:37 pm | Updated 10:41 pm IST - Bengaluru

A woman walks past police personnel on Tannery Road in D.J. Halli police limits of Bengaluru on Friday. Section 144 was imposed in the area.

A woman walks past police personnel on Tannery Road in D.J. Halli police limits of Bengaluru on Friday. Section 144 was imposed in the area.

The police on Thursday night arrested Kaleem Pasha, husband of a Congress councillor, for his alleged role in the riots that broke out in D.J. Halli late on Tuesday night, resulting in three deaths in police firing. The latest arrest — one among 206 so far —has triggered another round of political slugfest involving the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress, and the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI).

The Central Crime Branch (CCB) probing the riot cases arrested Mr. Pasha, husband of Irshad Begum, two-time Congress councillor from Nagawara. “He was in touch with the accused in the case during the riots and we suspect he was also part of those who instigated the violence,” said a senior police officer.

On Friday, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the violence occurred owing to “internal differences” within the Congress and strained relationships between the Congress and the SDPI. “Political differences in Pulakeshinagar constituency and matters related to a previous election and the forthcoming BBMP election were involved in the violence. I have already said that we are investigating the SDPI’s role, along with the role of local councillors,” Mr. Bommai said.

Soon after, MP for Bengaluru (Central) P.C. Mohan, referring to Mr. Pasha’s arrest, tweeted that skeletons were tumbling out of the Congress’ cupboard. Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar tweeted that the incidents “had unmasked the violent face of Congress”. BJP State president Nalin Kumar Kateel said the SDPI had become emboldened because of the leniency shown by former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah by “withdrawing cases that were filed against them and closing investigations by filing B-reports”.

Former Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president Dinesh Gundu Rao, who visited the area MLA R. Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy at his house, which was set fire to by rioters, said the attack seemed part of a “conspiracy” that started with a derogatory post online. “Naveen, who posted the inflammatory message, has been posting communally provocative content for sometime now. It has to be probed whether the post was intentional and part of a conspiracy to trigger unrest,” he said. Several Congress leaders, including party president D.K. Shivakumar, have said that Naveen, now arrested, had Sangh Parivar links. Though Naveen is Mr. Murthy’s nephew, the families were estranged.

K.J. George, MLA for Sarvagna Nagar (of which Nagawara ward is a part), acknowledged that Pasha, now arrested, was a local Congress leader. “We have unconditionally condemned the riots and are not protecting anyone. Let us not politicise it even as the police are carrying out the probe,” he told presspersons.

Former Mayor Sampath Raj and MLA B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan have said that the BJP was only making insinuations by talking of an internal rift.

Meanwhile, Ilyas Mohammed Tumbe, State president of SDPI, alleged that it was the BJP that was behind the D.J. Halli violence. “We have come to realise that the BJP is behind Naveen, whose social media posts triggered the riots. Pulakeshinagar constituency has a strong presence of Muslims and Dalits, which led to a thumping victory for the Congress. The BJP wants to break the unity of Muslims and Dalits and hence used a Dalit boy like Naveen to trigger the riots and blame the SDPI,” he alleged, demanding an inquiry by a sitting High Court judge.

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