Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai alleged on Tuesday that animosity within the Congress played a role in last week’s violence in Bengaluru, NDTV reported. Bommai also blamed the Social Democratic Party of India, the political arm of the Popular Front of India, for the violence.
“It has come out from Congress circles only,” Bommai told the news channel. “We have heard certain Congress leaders discussing discontent in the Congress and animosity towards the MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy. All these things have added up.”
A social media post by the MLAs son which allegedly denigrated Islam’s founder Muhammad had set off the violence. Those protesting the post had set Murthy’s home on fire, along with a police station. At least three people were killed and around 60 police personnel were injured in the violence on August 12. The toll from the violence rose to four on August 15 after a 24-year-old man arrested in connection with the clashes died.
Bommai said the Facebook post was just the “spark” needed to light the fire. “There was political discontent and political rivalry there for domination of the constituency,” the home minister said. “It has been triggered through quest for political dominance. The SDPI has taken advantage of it. They have done very well-planned violence. We are looking into all these angles.”
Bommai said law enforcement authorities were collecting evidence necessary to enforce a ban on the Social Democratic Party of India and Popular Front of India. He said that the Popular Front of India had earlier been the Students’ Islamic Movement of India, a banned organisation.
“We are looking into this entire history and metamorphosis,” the home minister told NDTV. “Some issues are amorphous. They have linkages with other organisations across the state and across the borders of the country also.” Bommai added that the Social Democratic Party of India and the Popular Front of India had been responsible for violence in various parts of the state.
“They have murdered people, RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] workers,” Bommai said. “They have attacked the Congress MLA and now they have attacked the Congress MLA’s house.”
The minister also said that no innocent people have been arrested, though over 300 have been held. “There are people who are directly involved and some indirectly involved,” he said. “We are picking up the people with evidence and some people we are calling for clarification and questioning. And after that we are sending them home.”
Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, a Congress leader, rubbished Bommai’s allegations. “Instead of identifying the actual culprits, BJP’s Karnataka leaders are more interested in targetting Congress party,” he tweeted. “They see politics in all crisis.”
He said that the Social Democratic Party of India should be punished if it is involved in the violence. Siddaramaiah accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of using the SDPI as a pawn to divide Muslim votes.