The violence that rocked East Bengaluru on Tuesday night leading to the death of three people and injuries to more than 60 others, mostly policemen, was pre-meditated, pre-planned. Police have arrested a spokesperson of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) Muzammil Pasha, who led the mob to carry out stoning, arson and clashes with police. More than 145 others have been arrested and the Home Minister of Karnataka has said that the protesters will be made to pay for the losses they have inflicted in India’s IT capital.
The immediate provocation for the violence was a derogatory Facebook comment posted by Naveen, a nephew of a local Congress MLA, Srinivasa Murthy, in which he insulted Prophet Mohammed.
This FB post was circulated by Muzammil Pasha and others asking the devouts to come out and protest because the Prophet has been insulted.
Bengaluru police have also arrested the youth who posted the derogatory comment on Facebook.
None among the violent mob tried to find out what action police took against the youth who posted the FB comment, nor did anybody give a thought to why they should attack police stations in retaliation over one individual’s criminal act.
The most surprising part was how thousands of people congregated all of a sudden in response to provocative messages forwarded through social media.
Who provided the rioters with fuel and other incendiary material to carry out arson?
Our Bengaluru reporter T. Raghavan has pieced together facts and incidents to create a sequence of events. At around 5 pm, a screenshot of the FB comment was viral on WhatsApp and was being forwarded mostly among Muslims, asking them to come out. At 6 pm, Muzammil Pasha went with his supporters to DJ Halli police station demanding Naveen’s arrest.
Police took down their complaint and promised action. Meanwhile, SDPI workers were furiously circulating messages on WhatsApp asking supporters to congregate.
Soon, rumours spread that Naveen was hiding in the MLA’s house, and the mob collected there. They ransacked his office and set fire to the house.
This mob was different from the mob that had gone to set the DJ Halli police station on fire amidst chants of “Allahu Akbar”. The crowd entered the police station and set fire to most of the vehicles parked outside.
The police were vastly outnumbered by the mob, which was preventing additional forces from reaching the spot. It was then that the police had to resort to firing. Three people died and the crowd started retreating. By that time, the police station was mostly reduced to ashes.
I have seen the video in which Muzammil Pasha was inciting his supporters by saying that this was not UP or Bihar and the Muslims of Bengaluru will take revenge for the insult heaped on our Prophet. After setting fire to the MLA’s house and office, the mob also ransacked the house of Munegowda, head of Anjaneya Swami Temple Trust.
Munegowda had nothing to do with the MLA or his nephew’s post, but his house was attacked.
Denigrating Prophet Mohammed is highly objectionable and must not be condoned. It is a crime to hurt the religious feelings of a community by insulting the Prophet who has given the message of peace and brotherhood to the world. But, setting fire to homes, vehicles, and police stations cannot be the work of true followers of the Prophet.
Those responsible for the death of three persons and injuries to 60 others cannot be true believers of Islam.
I have been told that somebody posted an objectionable comment about Lord Krishna on Facebook during Janmashtami, and in response, the MLA’s nephew posted this objectionable remark about Prophet Mohammed. Both these acts are reprehensible and need to be condemned.
Only a few people read the objectionable FB comment on Lord Krishna, and similarly, a few people read the insulting comment about the Prophet.
But, to take a screenshot of this comment and making it viral on social media, and by inciting people to come out and protest, is a criminal act.
Action must be taken against those who incited violence in the name of religion.
These people fanned flames of hatred and violence, and they must be punished. Such people are bringing a bad name to Islam by resorting to arson and violence.
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