BBMP and police officials, who were at the spot say that the people may have been scared of being shifted to quarantine centres.

Neighbours instigated violence Cops BBMP recall unrest in Bengaluru containment zone
Coronavirus Coronavirus Monday, April 20, 2020 - 19:06

Visuals of an angry mob attacking a checkpoint went viral on Sunday night. The group could be seen hurling chairs and tables around. The incident occurred in Bengaluru’s Padarayanapura ward, one of the two wards that was sealed off in the city due to the spread of COVID-19. Padarayanapura ward has 10 active cases of COVID-19, all of them who attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference in Delhi. On Sunday night, BBMP health officials and the Jayajeevanagar Police had been to the area to transfer 58 people, who were secondary contacts of the positive patients. 

“The people there were scared. They had children who were secondary contacts,” says Dr Yogesh MC, the BBMP Health Department official attached with the Chamarajpet office, who went to Padarayanapura on Sunday. Dr Yogesh, says that the secondary contacts had mostly agreed to go to the quarantine centre but it was their neighbours and other people in the locality, who strongly objected to this. He further states that though there was resistance, the crowd had not turned violent when he left the spot around 7 pm. 

So how did a group of people, scared and apprehensive of being shifted to a quarantine, end up indulging in the ruckus on Sunday night?

When BBMP Health officials went to quarantine secondary contacts

At around 6 pm on Sunday, Dr Yogesh and a few police officers went to Arafat Nagar in Padarayanapura ward to transfer 58 secondary contacts of COVID-19 patients to a quarantine facility. 

Dr Yogesh says that the BBMP had already transferred two families of 15 people, who were living on the first and second floor of two buildings located on 10th cross earlier in the day. However, around 58 people, living in multiple houses in the two buildings were scared to shift to quarantine. 

“There were around five small children on the list of 58 people. We explained to them and they agreed to be shifted. But it was the neighbours and other people in the locality, who insisted that they continue staying in home quarantine. We tried to reason with them,” he says. 

By 7 pm, the crowd had grown. Dr Yogesh says he contacted BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar, who instructed him to go back. Anil Kumar also informed him that the health department personnel could transfer the rest of the secondary contacts to quarantine centres on Monday. Dr Yogesh said that he left the spot and went home.  

The events that led to the ruckus

Head Constable of JJ Nagar Police Station, Venkatesh YT was deployed as security for the BBMP officials, who had visited Arafat Nagar. 

Venkatesh, and other constables including Devaraj, Manjunath and Ramesh say that after the BBMP officials left, they wanted to disperse the crowd from the 10th cross. 

“We were trying to ensure that they went to their houses. But there were a few youth, who were probably already frustrated because of the seal down. They started arguing with us. They started throwing stones at the street lights and began throwing stones at us,” Venkatesh said. 

He said that the crowd began moving towards the 11th cross and broke the barricades that were placed at the end of the road. 

The police checkpoint -- known as Sujata Tent, was located at the intersection between 10th cross, 11th cross and 11th F cross roads. Constable Raman Gowda, who escorted Dr Yogesh and the BBMP officials to 10th cross at around 6 pm, returned to the tent by 6.30 pm. At around 7.20 pm, he says that he saw a huge mob rushing towards the tent. 

“They were saying, ‘we must do something about them today’. They began vandalising the tent. They broke the tables and chairs. Many of them had wooden logs, stones and knives in their hands,” he adds. 

Few other people, who came from 11th F Cross and 12th cross, allegedly began vandalising barricades and CCTV cameras. “Thankfully, no one was hurt. They were throwing stones. It did not hit anyone,” he told TNM.

The arrests

The police officers, who were on the spot, contacted DCP West Ramesh Banoth and Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao, who arrived at the spot and dispersed the crowd. “When more police personnel started coming in, the crowd dispersed,” constable Venkatesh says. 

The JJ Nagar Police have booked 59 people in connection with the incident and have registered FIRs against five prime accused and around 50-60 others. Five FIRs were registered as the different crowds had gathered in four different spots in the area and complaints were registered by four constables and Dr Yogesh, the JJ Nagar Police said. 

The FIR names Wajid, Irfan alias Howli Babu, Kabeer alias Altaaf Pasha, Irshad Ahmed alias Zakriya Ahmed, Farzoova and 50-60 people. 

“These five people were the ones who started saying that the residents should not be taken to the quarantine centre. One of them was holding a knife in his hand as well. They were under the opinion that children must not be taken to quarantine centres,” constable Venkatesh said. 

In four of the five FIRs that were registered, the accused were booked under sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 506 (criminal intimidation), 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon),147(rioting), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 269 (negligence leading to the spread of an infectious disease), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from performing duty), 271 (disobedience to quarantine rule),149 (unlawful assembly with common intention) and 324 (assault with deadly weapon) of the Indian Penal Code. 

However, in the FIR, where constable Raman Gowda is the complainant, section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC has been added against the five prime acussed and the others. 


 

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