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Opinion | Bengaluru riots: Punish the Perpetrators

The situation in East Bengaluru continues to remain tense and on Thursday, paramilitary forces had to stage flag march in the riot-hit areas. Curfew and prohibitory orders will continue for the next two days.

Rajat Sharma Written by: Rajat Sharma @RajatSharmaLive New Delhi Published on: August 14, 2020 10:31 IST
Aaj Ki Baat
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Bengaluru riots: Punish the Perpetrators

Curfew has been clamped in Banaswadi police sub-division of Bengaluru city and prohibitory orders under Sec 144 have been enforced in several areas till August 15 in view of violent attacks by mobs on Tuesday night. In primetime my show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’  I telecast videos to show how the attacks were not spontaneous but pre-planned. The videos show people distributing packets to armed mobs before they forcibly entered two police stations. 

The perpetrators had planned to attack Bengaluru police several days ago and the blasphemous Facebook posting only acted as a trigger point. The videos clearly establish that mobs were brought to police stations to indulge in arson, though the ostensible reason was to file a complaint against the Facebook offender, Naveen. The mob started attacking police, even when policemen had gone out to Naveen’s home to pick him up. These facts clearly point towards a premeditated plan.

The CCTV footage shows a man coming on a two-wheeler and handing over packets to two persons in the mob. The two persons have now been identified by police. Leaders of SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India), a Muslim outfit, had been claiming that the mob became violent because police were dragging its feet over taking action against the Facebook offender. 

Bengaluru police are hunting for Mudassir Ahmed, the man who took a screenshot of the objectionable Facebook post and circulated among his supporters. The man, Mudassir Ahmed, in his messages, was appealing to Muslims to gather immediately at DJ Halli police station because a nephew of the local Congress MLA has denigrated the Prophet. There are almost a dozen other accounts through which Muslims were incited to come out of their homes and protest. Police is investigating all these social media accounts. 

Another angle about local intra-Congress party rivalry has emerged. One of the three FIRs filed by police, names a man named Kaleem, a former councillor, whose wife Irshad Begum is presently the Congress councilor. The Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy, was earlier in Janata Dal (S), but left the party two years ago and contested on a Congress ticket. He won the elections from Pulakeshi Nagar assembly constituency. 

Local Congress leaders are unhappy with the MLA whom they regard as an interloper. Kaleem has good contacts with top Congress leaders in the state. He, along with former Home Minister K. J. George, had visited the DJ Halli and KG Halli police stations, which bore the brunt of the mob’s attacks. The mobs set fire to the Congress MLA’s home and office, and yet he has not come forward to file FIRs. The MLA has only said that God will punish the culprits. Srinivasa Murthy claims that he has not met his nephew Naveen for the last ten years. He avoided naming any political outfit for the riots. Clearly, Murthy does not want to antagonize Muslims, who constitute a large chunk of voters in his constituency. 

The situation in East Bengaluru continues to remain tense and on Thursday, paramilitary forces had to stage flag march in the riot-hit areas. Curfew and prohibitory orders will continue for the next two days.

I have spoken to several Islamic scholars, who said that there were umpteen number of objectionable posts on social media against their Prophet, but this does not mean that people should take law into their own hands. To set fire to a police station, trying to loot weapons from police because of an FB post, is nothing but a crime, they said. 

The Islamic scholars said it was wrong to blame the MLA for the derogatory comment posted by his nephew. They said, whatever may be the provocation, setting fire to homes and vehicles is a crime. The Maulanas alleged that some Muslim leaders who incited the mobs were enemies of Islam. Whenever such arson and violence take place, the ultimate victims are Muslims, who lose sympathy from other communities. 

I think the message from right-thinking Muslim scholars must be conveyed to those in their community, who are easily incited by provocative speeches. However, stringent punishment must be meted out to those who planned these mob attacks in Bengaluru causing damage to police stations and public property. They must not be spared. They need to be exposed publicly.


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