While activists allege that the police are protecting a local BJP leader, police said the scuffle arose as some volunteers were not wearing masks.

 COVID-19 Bengaluru cops arrest 3 for attacking volunteers distributing aid
news Crime Wednesday, April 08, 2020 - 09:45

Three persons have been arrested by the police for an attack on Monday carried out against volunteers of Swaraj Abhiyan who were distributing food to needy people living in low income, migrant settlements in north-east Bengaluru amidst the lockdown. Police said efforts are on to nab other accused who are absconding.

The attack took place after on Saturday the same volunteers were harassed on communal lines by members of the same group. Incidents of harassment also took place in nearby areas against other activists of Swaraj Abhiyan. Following this, the activists had also met jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Bhimashankar S Guled.

Read: COVID-19: Muslims and Muslim volunteers heckled, harassed in Karnataka

Bangalore Mirror quoted  Guled as denying that the attack was communal in nature. However, activists speaking with TNM on condition of anonymity, alleged that the police were protecting the interests of the ruling party of the state. The activists had also met with City Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao on Tuesday.

The DCP said even members of the accused group were involved in the food distribution activity and the scuffle had broken out as one of the Swaraj India volunteers was not wearing a mask. Wearing masks among healthy people is not mandatory according to health care professionals and even the state Health Commissioner Pankaj Pandey has issued a circular to this effect.

The trio have been booked under multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code— 506, 504, 147, 143, 144, 149. 323 and 324 by Amruthahalli Police. These include charges of intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace, criminal intimidation, and voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons.

An activist alleged, “Even though the men who are arrested were acting at the behest of a local BJP leader named Venkatesh, the police refused to name him in the FIR (First Information Report).” 

According to 23-year-old Syed Tabrez who is the complainant, he and five others including Kiran, Junaid, Riyaz, Feroz and Amjad were attacked by seven people in three motorcycles. They were carrying cricket bats and started beating them up.

Following the incident, Syed suffered minor injuries on his right hand and right leg. The others also suffered minor injuries. They have been discharged from hospital.

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