"I knew something went horribly wrong when I saw the fire outside the police station," Asif, an eyewitness of the violence that broke out in east Bengaluru said, recalling the events of the night.
By the end of the night, his relative Yasin Pasha was among three persons who died in the violence due to gunshot wounds. "We reached the hospital early in the morning and we were told Yasin was brought dead there," says Asif.
Three persons were reported dead and several others were injured in the violence that broke out in east Bengaluru on Tuesday night.
DJ Halli police station in Bengaluru
A mob attacked the Devarajeevanahalli Police Station and the Kadugondanahalli Police Station. Trouble started when police officials were discussing a complaint by Muzammil, an activist of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI).
He had asked the police to register an FIR against Naveen P, a relative of Congress MLA Akhand Srinivas Murthy, for a derogatory post he made about Prophet Mohammed. But the burgeoning crowd were agitated that the police did not immediately arrest Naveen and soon violence erupted at the DJ Halli police station.
Eyewitnesses said that Muzammil arrived at the station at 8 pm along with a lawyer, asking the police to register an FIR against Naveen for the derogatory comments on Facebook. An hour later, a police team which had set out to Naveenâ€™s house returned but the large crowd outside the police station realised Naveen was not in the police van, according to this report.
The mob of members from the Muslim community barged into the police station. "The mob dismantled the gates of the police station and set fire to vehicles outside. They vandalised the station and set fire to the basement where vehicles of the staff members were kept," a police official at DJ Halli police station said.
With SD Sharanappa, Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) and two other senior police officials still inside the DJ Halli police station, the mob violence escalated. A police vehicle was overturned and another was set on fire. Several other vehicles outside the police station too were torched by the mob, demanding that police take action and arrest Naveen. Police accounts said that there were more than 1,500 rioters outside the station at this point.
Around the same time as the mob violence at the DJ Halli Police Station, Pulikeshi Nagar Congress MLA R Akhanda Srinivas Murthyâ€™s bungalow in Kaval Byrasandra and his relative Naveenâ€™s house too was attacked by over 200 rioters who were armed with sticks, stones, petrol and kerosene. The legislatorâ€™s residence and his under construction house in the adjoining site were damaged and set on fire.
Soon, the mob also managed to locate Naveen and his family and attacked the house, much in the same manner as they attacked Srinivas Murthyâ€™s house. As there was no security at Naveenâ€™s residence, the rioters managed to also break into the house and run amok while members of Naveenâ€™s family had to quickly take shelter in their neighbourâ€™s house.
Violence then broke out at the KG Halli police station, which is 3 km away from the DJ Halli police station. Muslim religious leaders and politicians reached the area to dissuade the mob from indulging in more violence. Swaraj Abhiyan and Congress leaders Zameer Ahmed Khan and Rizwan Arshad also arrived at the site after police officials asked them to speak to the mob.
Police used tear gas shells and opened fire at the mob around 11 pm. "The crowd had reduced after the police resorted to lathi charge but it was still a large crowd. One police inspector was sent into each lane with a weapon. It was after the firing that the crowd dispersed," a police official said. After the crowd dispersed, the police cleared the streets in Kaval Byrasandra and DJ Halli and the situation was brought under control at 1 am in the night.
Heavy damage was reported in both locations. The mob torched two buses and two jeeps among several other vehicles outside DJ Halli police station. The vehicles of 50-60 civilians were also damaged or set on fire by the mob while the vehicles which were in the basement of the DJ Halli police station were damaged due to a fire.
Two victims, Javeed Khan (19) and Yasin Pasha (22), were brought dead to Bowring Hospital in Bengaluru around midnight. A source in the hospital confirmed that they had gunshot wounds on their thighs. The third victim of the violence is Sheikh Sadiq (24)
Four more civilians - Feroz, Saddam, Arfath Pasha and Chand Pasha - were brought to Bowring Hospital with gunshot wounds, but they were not fatal. Another person named Sridhar and Vailayudin, the driver of Bheemashankar Guled, DCP (Northeast) were also injured during the mob violence.
Along with the civilians, five police personnel were injured and brought to the same hospital. They were bleeding from stone pelting. Even an ACP was injured and received treatment at the hospital. In all, around 60 police officials were injured in the violence on Tuesday.
The burial of two of the victims - Javeed and Yasin - was held on Wednesday evening and a bus was arranged to transport family members from DJ Halli to the burial site.
Asif, a relative of one of the victims Yasin was on this bus. He says that Yasin was headed to his brother's home in Shampur at the time the violence erupted. When he was shot, he asked those nearby to call for his brother with whom he worked in a mutton shop in Hebbal. By the time he was rushed to Bowring Hospital, he was declared dead. "Both of them (Yasin and Javeed) were shot high on the thigh on the femoral artery. They had injuries, bled a lot and died," a doctor told TNM.
TNM tried posing questions regarding the identity of the deceased or even the cause of death to the Home Minister, Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru and also the Deputy Commissioner of police, but they were evaded. Curiously, the FIR copy has not been available either to journalists or to the public, with only some of the Sections of the Indian Penal Code mentioned in the FIR narrated by police officers.
As many as 146 people were arrested in connection with the violence including Naveen P, who was accused of making the derogatory post. The arrested persons also include Muzammil Pasha, the SDPI leader who turned up at the police station asking for action to be taken on Naveen.
Police officials registered a case of arson, rioting, prevention of public servants from performing duty, damage to public property and unlawful assembly against the rioters and a magisterial enquiry will now be conducted into the incident.