Bengaluru violence: Narrative of 'communal tensions' misleading; turf war between BJP, Congress, SDPI behind clashes

Three people died due to police firing in Bengaluru's Devarajeevanahalli (DJ Halli) and Kadugodanahalli (KG Halli) after violence and arson in the areas

Naheed Ataulla August 12, 2020 18:56:59 IST
Bengaluru violence: Narrative of 'communal tensions' misleading; turf war between BJP, Congress, SDPI behind clashes

Three people died late on Tuesday night due to police firing in Bengaluru's Devarajeevanahalli (DJ Halli) and Kadugodanahalli (KG Halli) after violence and arson in the areas.

On social media, right-wing activists are seeking to portray the incident as a communal clash. However, tensions had been rising throughout the past week over Facebook posts by Congress MLA from Pulakeshinagar R Akhanda Srinivasamurthy's nephew P Naveen.

The police firing took place after a mob vandalised public property and attacked Srinivasamurthy's house. The violence was said to have been sparked by an offensive Facebook post about Prophet Muhammad allegedly shared by the MLA's nephew.

In the past week, Srinivasamurthy's nephew P Naveen had put up a series of posts about the Ram Temple at Ayodhya. Subsequently, Naveen also allegedly put out an offensive post about Prophet Muhammad. According to an article in The Print, Naveen has claimed his account was hacked. However, some locals filed a complaint with the DJ Halli police over the Facebook post on Tuesday evening.

Political parties are indulging in a blame game over the violence. The BJP has accused the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) of instigating the violence and wants the outfit to be banned. The Congress has dubbed the violence as a political conspiracy and has stood by Srinivasamurthy.

BJP’s national general secretary (Organisation) B L Santhosh tweeted:

Congress corporator AR Zakir, who represents Pulakeshinagar, said that tension had started building up from Tuesday 5 pm, and this was brought to Srinivasamurthy's notice. "Subsequently, some locals went to the DJ Halli police station to file a complaint. They were told told that necessary action would be taken and asked to go home."

Zakir said that there was a 'delay' on the part of the police in responding to the matter, which angered the protesters.

People in the locality had alleged that Srinivasamurthy had not visited the area to inquire about the COVID-19 situation, which is also said to have angered locals.

Commenting on the violence, Irfan Sadiq, a resident of DJ Halli, said that the best recourse in the situation would have been filing an FIR against Naveen, rather than resorting to vandalism. "This step would have made even the judiciary look into the issue,'' he added.

However, Karnataka SDPI president Elyas Mohammed Tumbe, in a news conference, blamed the violence on the police's 'dereliction of duty.' He claimed that SDPI corporator Mujahid Pasha tried to pacify the crowd, but the police filed a complaint against him instead and took him into custody. Tumbe claimed that there is a disinformation campaign against the SDPI.

Political history of DJ Halli

DJ Halli, a densely populated locality in Bengaluru, has reported a large number of COVID-19 cases in the recent past. Several people here work as autorickshaw drivers and daily wage labourers. Many parts of this locality are slums, which lack basic civic infrastructure and have been neglected by elected representatives across all parties. This neglect is despite the fact that a Congress corporator from DJ Halli, R Sampat Raj, was the city's mayor for a year in 2017-18.

This political vacuum was filled by the SDPI, whose representatives urged locals not to depend on mainstream political parties for their welfare. In 2018, the SDPI won 19 seats in the Karnataka urban local body polls, the bulk of them in the saffron stronghold of Dakshina Kannada. However, the party's lone representative in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike is A Mujahid Pasha, representing Siddapur ward in Chickpet assembly constituency.

Former Congress MLA R Roshan Baig foresaw the political ambitions of the SDPI and during the 2018 Assembly polls opposed the party having any tacit understanding with the outfit. The SDPI had fielded candidates in Dakshina Kannada for the Assembly elections, but later withdrew them. The BJP swept the polls in the coastal belt.

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