–Kakali Das |
The Bangalore Police on 12th August arrested a man who had posted a derogatory social media post that was offensive to Islam and its beliefs. Allegedly, this particular post led to, which can only be described as “riots”- three people have died and over 50 police personnel have been injured. The accused being Naveen P has been identified as the nephew of a Congress MLA, Akhanda Srinivas Murthy and to quote the Bangalore City Police Commissioner, it says, “With regard to the incident in Banaswadi Subdivision, accused Naveen, along with a total of 110 accused were arrested for stone pelting, assault to police and I appeal to all to maintain peace”. A rapid action force marched in the morning of 13th August on the concerned spot. 4 people had been admitted in the Banaswadi hospital with gunshot injuries,in addition to the 3 people who were being confirmed dead. “Regarding who fired the gunshots, that has to be ascertained by the investigators. If we look at the FIR by the police, they actually said that the rioters had snatched their weapons but it was the police who were firing at the crowd of protestors when I reached the spot on Tuesday night”, Prajwal Bhat, Journalist, News Minute said.
In terms of the arrests that have been made so far, the government said that they would be very strict in ensuring the investigation and arrests. On Thursday morning, two FIRs had been filed, one of them was the arrest of Naveen P who made the derogatory post which kick started the riot and the other included the arrest of a number of leaders, amongst whom were the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) leaders who had arrived at the DJ Halli Police Station seeking a complaint to be filed against Naveen for the Facebook post, along with several others. We might see more arrests since the investigation is underway.
A brief on the incident: The area concerned was the DJ Halli and KG Halli Police Stations in the Banaswadi Subdivision, in the Eastern part of Bangalore. A crowd of around 150 people were reported outside the DJ Halli Police Station at around 8 pm after the derogatory post by a person named, Naveen P, a relative of a Congress MLA got viral. The SDPI President in Bangalore, Muzamil Pasha was the one who had come along with a lawyer to file a complaint against the person, Naveen P, who made the post. There was a delay in the registering of the FIR which were told by the Police and the crowd outside the Police Station had swollen in an hour. The crowd realised that the FIR wasn’t registered after Muzamil came out of the Police Station and addressed the crowd with a loud speaker. There were 2 Police teams that were dispatched to the house of Naveen P but the policemen who went to the residence of the accused returned without Naveen inside of it. This was, according to the Police and the eye-witnesses, what stimulated a massive violent attack on the Police Station persuading the senior Police Officials of that Station to take shelter inside of it. They could just helplessly watch on as the vandalism and the mob fury began outside. The DJ Halli Police Station seems to have borne the brunt of the damage the most- a part of the station had been set on fire, vehicles burnt and in the area, which was a hundred metres away from the Station, vehicles belonging to the Police and the Civilians were charred. There was a canteen located next to the station; the Police had to hasten to the canteen and escape from the fury of the mob. The mob even vandalised an ATM that was present in the area. The fire department personnel have been investigating as to how a large amount of fire took place and whether the rioters had fuel stored up or did they have any access to Petrol or Kerosene. It was pitch dark in the area that night and there weren’t many lights that were on; the only light emanated was from the fire of the vehicles burnt on road.
“The mob wanted the police to hand the accused over to them which was extremely illegal and unacceptable under any circumstances. All these portrays that they weren’t interested in the FIR or any action legally but to lynch the accused to death”, Retired ACP, Bengaluru said.
He further said that the area where the vandalism and violence occurred actually had instances of certain crimes in the past and interestingly the attacks specifically happened only on the two Police Stations and the MLA’s house, nobody else was harmed or bothered. This suggested to him that there might have been an ulterior motive to this and it was not what appeared on the face of it.
The city like Bangalore is not acquainted with violence and vandalism of this nature around. Bangalore was oblivious of the religious clashes, there weren’t such aggressive reactions of this intensity on the streets to anything, let alone the filling or the delay of an FIR which were forwarded by many of being one of the reasons for the riot. It is a place where people with different religions, cultures, ideologies inhabit and coexist peacefully; there might be arguments, bickering etc. but a mob of this nature have actually made people wonder, “How over a ‘social media post’ and with such coordination did so many people come together and initiated the riot!”.We have heard that the government has put out a statement which says that they believe this incident is politically motivated in some way to make it appear worse. There are rifts that are being created based on religion. Three young boys in their teenage years have lost their lives in the riot which is extremely appalling and sad. I would again want to reiterate my point here that all these happened for a “social media post”. People have become so intolerant and inhumane that a reason as trivial as a Facebook Post can be enough to butcher each other with such brutality. On the contrary, there were many people who came out the next day and said that a lot of Muslim brethren had protected them from the mob or else they would have been dead by now. People are scared to death, the fear has set in.This certainly looks like an orchestrated event where a crowd of thousand misguided youths have been turned violent by someone’s ideologies to further his/her agendas.
“I was there at the spot, pleading to the crowd using the Police Jeep’s mic and I kept on saying that there was a time when a woman used to throw stones at Prophet Muhammad and HE did nothing about it. Infact, one day when the woman stopped throwing stones at Prophet Mohammad, HE himself went to the woman’s house and asked her if she was alright and why didn’t she show up that day. That’s the teaching of Prophet; there can’t be any violent reaction and I kept on screaming on the mic to let the mob stop their violence”, Zia Nomani, Youth President, Swaraj India said.
The people who organised this violence, these organisations must be dismantled and the leaders must be interrogated. “The police need to look into the WhatsApp chats because the images and the crowd to be mobilised predominantly happened on WhatsApp. If the people catches those people, they will definitely come to know the deeper conspiracy of who mobilised this violent crowd”, Nomani further said.