The recent Bengaluru riots occurred at breakneck speed, erupting in less than three hours of the derogatory message being put up on social media.
“Naveen posted the derogatory message around 6 p.m. and by 9 p.m. the riots erupted,” Central Crime Branch (CCB) Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Kuldeep Jain said.
The government machinery was already strained with battling the Coronavirus pandemic, and the riots caught them unawares.
On Tuesday night, hundreds of people ran amok after Pulikeshinagar’s Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy’s nephew P. Naveen posted a derogatory message on social media.
The mob pelted stones, injuring 60 policemen, and committed acts of vandalism and arson in DJ Halli, KG Halli, Pulikeshinagar and Kaval Byrasandra areas.
“As soon as the news reached the police, cops from nearby police stations rushed to the spot,” said Jain.
Police Commissioner Kamal Pant himself rushed to the riot-affected areas to monitor the situation and so did other senior police officials and personnel.
The police was initially overwhelmed with the rioters outnumbering them. “By that time whatever preventive things we could do, we tried it out. All that did not calm down the mob,” he said.
It was only after the police fired in the air and later at the rioters, leading to the death of three people, did the situation come under control. Jain said batons and announcements proved futile in calming down the mob.
Moreover, police were apprehensive that the riots could spread to other parts of the city if the situation was not brought under control.
“Had there been no firing, it would have continued for whatever time and the damage could have been more. And we were afraid that they would have spread across Bengaluru,” he said.
The riot-affected places are not very far from Bengaluru’s central business district, and thickly populated residential areas.
Meanwhile, no weapons have been found by the police yet as some people are suspecting and as alleged by one of the victims, Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy.
Murthy said upto 4,000 people had attacked and set his 50-year-old ancestral home on fire using petrol bombs, machetes, sticks and rods.
As the vandals managed to burn upto 300 vehicles, including a police bus, cops are probing as to what material they used to set them ablaze. The mobsters also damaged a DCP’s vehicle parked in front of the DJ Halli police station.
On Wednesday, following the Tuesday night riots, police focused on ensuring a peaceful burial to the three people who died in firing.
Seven police teams lead by Joint Commissioner of Police, Crime, Sandeep Patil are probing the riots as 206 suspects have already been arrested.
The senior police officer said most of the people who went on a rampage were young men, including some middle-aged ones. He added the police wasn’t given an opportunity to deal with the derogatory post.
“That is what makes us wonder what is the bigger conspiracy? There could have been a little patience. Police should have been given an opportunity to do their work,” he said.
Though Naveen initially claimed that his Facebook account was hacked, he later admitted that he posted the derogatory message. Within 40 minutes of posting the message, he deleted his FB account.
Police has arrested 60 more persons in connection with the Bengaluru riots, taking the total arrests to 206, including a woman corporator’s husband, an official said on Friday.
“We have arrested 60 more persons for their role in the recent Bengaluru riots,” Central Crime Branch (CCB) Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Kuldeep Jain said.
Kaleem Pasha, one of the arrested persons, is the husband of Irshaad Begum, a corporator of Nagawara ward.
Of those arrested, 80 have been shifted to Ballari jail.
Meanwhile, seven police teams headed by Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil are investigating the riots.
Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwath Narayan said: “Every rioter and arsonist involved in any way will be hunted down by our government no matter where they are hiding.”
He said the scale of the violence points to its organised nature.
Karnataka Congress legislator’s nephew P Naveen has admitted to the posting of a derogatory remark on Facebook.
“In the course of questioning, Naveen admitted to have posted the derogatory remark after denying it earlier and claiming that his Facebook account was hacked, when he was arrested on August 12,” Bengaluru East Deputy Commissioner of Police SD Sharanappa said.
Naveen, 26, is a nephew of Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy from Pulakeshinagar (reserve) segment in the city’s north-eastern suburb.
“Naveen is in our custody for investigation into the riots, as it was his provocative post on the social media that instigated a mob to commit violence, in which his uncle’s (Murthy) house was burnt and one of our police stations in the area (DJ Halli) was attacked and damaged,” Sharanappa said.
Opposition Congress claimed that “inordinate delay” in acting against Naveen by the police even after a complaint against him for the derogatory post led to the protests and subsequent mob violence in which a number of vehicles were burnt and public property destroyed.
“Had the police acted swiftly by arresting Naveen soon after the complaint was lodged against him in the DJ Halli police station by the aggrieved party, mob violence, arson and rioting would not have occurred and three lives would have been saved,” Congress spokesman MA Saleem said.
When caning and tear gas failed to control the mob from attacking the police station, police fired shots, in which three area youths died.
“Though Naveen is related to Murthy, he is a BJP supporter, as evident from a post on his Facebook account in which he claimed to have voted for the BJP in the May 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” asserted Saleem.
Besides investigating Naveen’s political leanings, police are looking into his call records and postings in social media accounts like Whatsapp to ascertain if he was acting alone or with others.
In all, 206 accused have been arrested so far in connection with the riots, including 60 earlier in the day. Those held included Kaleem Pasha, husband of Congress corporator Irshad Begum from the Nagwara civic ward in the city’s eastern suburb.
“Though Pasha is one of the signatories in the complaint against Naveen, he is alleged to have instigated the unruly mob to set Murthy’s house on fire and attack the police station,” a police source said. (IANS)