Violence broke out in the eastern pockets of Bengaluru on Tuesday night over an allegedly derogatory Facebook post by a relative of Congress MLA R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, ANI reported. At least three people were killed during police firing and 60 personnel have sustained injuries, the Bengaluru police commissioner told NDTV.
Authorities have imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibits the gathering of four or more people at a place, in Bengaluru. Curfew has been imposed in DJ Halli, KG Halli and Kavalbyrasandra area, reported Times Now. Commissioner of Police Kamal Pant told ANI that the situation was brought under control. “We are getting some companies from Rapid Action Force, Central Reserve Police Force and Central Industrial Security to join our security arrangements,” he said.
The Congress leader’s relative, identified as P Naveen, had allegedly made insulting remarks about Prophet Muhammad, The News Minute reported. However, he later posted that his account had been hacked and that he would file a complaint, according to News18. “For the fault of some miscreants, let us not fight among ourselves,” he said. “Whoever has done that, let police and government take action legally. I am also with you to see that whoever it is, is punished. Please maintain calm.”
Commissioner of Police Kamal Pant on Wednesday said Naveen has been arrested in connection with the allegedly derogatory post. Apart from him, another 110 people have been taken into custody for arson, stone pelting and assault on police, he tweeted.
Tensions started brewing when a crowd of nearly 1,000 people gathered in front of the KG Halli and DJ Halli police stations demanding Naveen’s arrest, said the police. Another group of protestors had also gathered outside the Congress MLA’s residence where they allegedly vandalised the property and torched vehicles parked outside his house.
At the KG Halli police station, protestors alleged that officials refused to file a complaint against Naveen immediately. Following this, the demonstrators started shouting slogans, pelting stones and torching vehicles. At DJ Halli police station, a police vehicle was set ablaze, reported The News Minute.
District Commissioner of Police East Bhimashankar Guled’s official car was attacked with stones and sticks. A police team led by Commissioner Pant was attacked with stones, according to The Times of India.
The police opened fire, used tear gas and baton-charged people to quell the spiralling protests. Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the police have been “given a free hand” to contain the violence. Bommai also released a video message, saying people should not take law into their own hands, according to NDTV. He condemned the violence and said that additional police forces had been sent to the area.
The father of a man killed in police firing told PTI that his son was innocent. “My son operated a meat shop in the area and had gone for dinner when the police opened fire and he died,” he said. “He is innocent and was not involved in any arson,” he said.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, meanwhile, said that his government will not tolerate such violence and rumours. “The government has taken all possible steps to curb the violence,” he tweeted. “The attack on police, media persons and common citizens is unpardonable. I appeal to people to act with restraint.”
Karnataka Congress Chief DK Shivakumar assured support to the Karnataka government in restoring peace. “I have called a meeting of our legislators at noon,” he told ANI. “I have spoken to our Congress Legislative Party leader Siddaramaiah, we will give full support to government to maintain peace and harmony.”
“I strongly condemn the incident and our party also condemns whatever happened last night,” he added. “It happened due to a person’s post on social media. At this point, it is important to maintain peace.”
Siddaramaiah said that he had spoken to the Bengaluru police Commissioner to immediately arrest the people who instigated the violence. “I urge leaders from both the religion to discuss and resolve the issue amicably and restore peace in the area,” he wrote on Twitter. “I condemn both violent incident that erupted in Kaval Byrsandra and also the social media post that instigated the mob. I humbly request both Hindus and Muslims of the area to stay calm, maintain peace and live in harmony.”
Meanwhile, Congress MLA Murthy released a video message appealing to protestors to maintain peace. “I request our Muslim friends, for the mistake of some miscreants, let’s not fight,” he said. “Whatever the fight, we’re brothers. Whoever has made a mistake, let’s teach them a lesson through legal means. We will also stand with you. Whoever has made the mistake, we will take steps to teach them a lesson. I request our Muslim kin to please remain peaceful. I will also stand with you.”
Congress MLAs BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan and MLA Rizwan Arshad appealed to the people to maintain peace. “The incident that is happening in Kaval Byrsandra is unfortunate,” Khan tweeted. “I am hopeful that police will take action against all those who are responsible for this.”
Muslim community leaders also appealed for peace and asked people not to take law into their own hands.