Bengaluru Riots: Violence Fuelled By Social Media Post

On August 12, the Bengaluru Police arrested a man for uploading an offensive post on Facebook aimed at Islamic beliefs. The objectionable post led to violent clashes at Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy’s residence, followed by more conflicts in and around DJ Halli and KG Halli police station premises where a mob began pelting stones and torching vehicles. At least three people have died, and over 50 police personnel have been reported to be injured. The arrested accused is identified to be P Naveen, the nephew of Murthy.

Preliminary investigations assume that turf war between four politicians, including three former ministers, might have turned a petty issue into a whole-scale riot in east Bengaluru on the night of August 11.

According to the police, the three former ministers were concerned with Murthy’s growing appeal and took the help of a former corporator with a similar resentment for the MLA to corner him. A senior police inspector said, “The trio resented the MLA’s growing clout in awarding government and civic tenders. A few days ago, posters announcing that the MLA was missing along with his photograph had appeared all over Kavalbyrasandra. The matter even reached the police.” Followed by the Facebook post mentioned above put up by the MLA’s people, which served as the perfect opportunity to retaliate against him.

What Happened?

The aggrieved approached the police and the Pulkeshi Nagar MLA’s residence demanding legal action against the post without resorting to violence. However, the mob swelled in a flash, raising suspicions that the attack was pre-planned, as the tactics had a guerilla element to them.

Hundreds began protesting outside DJ Halli police station, asking for immediate action. IPS Officer Kamal Pant has said that many senior police officers at the DCP level have been injured, police jeeps, buses, and other vehicles have been overturned and set on fire, rampant stone pelting took place during the late hours.

The Bengaluru City Police confirmed in a statement that to control the situation, they used batons, tear gas, and opened fire. CRPF had been deployed in the violence-struck areas, and more platoons are being called from Chennai and Hyderabad to secure Bengaluru’s safety.

Although, the accused maintains that his account got hacked, and the uploading of the derogatory post was not his doing. The deleted post has been retrieved by the police, who has not negated the possibility of conspiracy. Further investigation is underway.

Meanwhile, a strict curfew under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is imposed in DJ Halli, and KG Halli police station limits till August 21.

Political Scenario:

Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa ordered strict police action against the 110 perpetrators arrested for being involved in the incident. A magisterial inquiry into the clashes has also been directed. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, “We will investigate the matter thoroughly, whatever the situation is. However, indulging in vandalism is not the solution.

Additional forces have been deployed and gave the cops a free hand to handle the situation.” Rapid Action Force and Garuda Commandos are also deployed in the affected areas.

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President DK Shivakumar summoned an urgent meeting of the party leaders, MLAs, MLCs, former Bengaluru mayors, and other Congress leaders to come up with ways of ensuring peace and harmony among the affected people.

With BBMP’s term coming to an end next month, two aspiring youth leaders, P Naveen and Muzamil Pasha of the Social Democratic Party of India are contending against each other for becoming the next corporator from Sagayapuram ward, where the most violence occurred. Pasha had once unsuccessfully contested the municipal polls and is now working to consolidate Muslim votes in his favor. He allegedly made use of the controversial post to flare up the riot.

The Janata Dal (Secular) party believes the incident to be a “pre-planned conspiracy” and demands prompt action, whereas former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda urged the state government to take “merciless” measures against the perpetrators.

Plight of the People:

The residents of the areas under curfew have been the worst hit. They have been restricted in their houses without adequate food, water, and other essentials. While they were already combating the disrupted food supplies in containment zones, the shops would remain closed again after the imposition of section 144. Pregnant women, old and sick people have to walk to hospitals as there is no transport. A man who stepped out to buy medicines for his ill daughter was caned.

Links with Terror Groups:

The CCB has detained a suspect on August 17 for being involved in the riots, who has connections with the terror group Al-Hind and is the accused in the murder case of RSS activist Rudresh. The suspect, Samiuddin (42), is a resident of Nagawara and has been taken into custody for further investigation. He was active on social media during the riots and gathered the protestors.

Al-Hind, formed by Mehboob Pasha, Khaja Moideen, and associates, has been under the radar of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connections with the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS).

On August 19, NIA arrested a 28-year-old ophthalmologist working at MS Ramaiah Medical for his alleged links with the ISIS terror outfit.

As per the press released by NIA, Abdur Rahman, a resident of Basavangudi, allegedly developed a medical application to help the injured ISIS cadres in conflict zones and another weapons-related application for ISIS fighters.

According to NIA, arrested accused Rahman is an active member of the banned terror outfit, Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), and identified with ISIS. During interrogation, he further confessed that “he was conspiring with accused Jahanzaib Sami and other Syria-based ISIS operatives on secure messaging platforms to further ISIS activities,” read the NIA press release report.

The report also revealed that “Rahman had visited an ISIS medical camp in Syria in early 2014 for the treatment of ISIS terrorists and stayed with Islamic State operatives for ten days and returned to India.”

After arresting Rahman, they searched the premises of his property in Bengaluru with the assistance of Karnataka Police and seized digital devices, mobile phones, and a laptop containing incriminating materials.

“Rahman will be produced before the NIA Special Court at New Delhi, and NIA remand will seek his custodial interrogation,” read the NIA report.

MS Ramaiah Hospital issued a statement saying that the college was not aware of Rahman’s activities outside the campus.

Currently, the police have arrested Wajid Pasha, a member of the JDS party and Tippu Tiger Organization, who was on the run after the incident. Further developments are anticipated regarding the Bengaluru violence.

Aishani Sarkar

An ardent literature lover with my mind constantly travelling through far-off unexplored worlds. A lover of languages and cultures--the sweetest language in the world being my mother-tongue. Chasing the Northern Lights...taking one step closer. My pen is my sword. #BongAtHeart

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