Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday called for a judicial inquiry into the death of two civilians killed during police firing in anti-CAA protests in Mangaluru.
He also asked for proof to substantiate claims made by BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje that people from Kerala entered Mangaluru and instigated protests in the city.
"The police has lied by saying people from Kerala came to Mangaluru to protest. The police further lied by saying that there were protesters forcing their way into the police station. In videos, they are seen far away from the station when the firing took place," Siddaramaiah said.
Siddaramaiah alleged that the police were lying about the need to start firing and questioned why water jets were not deployed to disperse the crowds first. Siddaramaiah also added that if the protesters were allowed to continue the agitation, violence would not have erupted.
â€śThe police are lying by saying thousands of persons from Kerala came here. The reason given that there were people forcing their way to the station. Was there firing near police station? It was very far away. This is a lie perpetrated by the government. If protesters were allowed to protest they would agitate and go. None of that was done and no warning was given. No water jet or tear gas was used and no announcement was given prior to firing,â€ť Siddaramaiah added.
Police officials in Mangaluru however claim that the Mangaluru North (Bunder) police station was surrounded on three sides by protesters. The police claimed that there was a series of stone pelting and arson incidents close to the station which prompted them to open fire on the protesters.
The former CM also renewed calls for a judicial probe into the incident. "Police and the government triggered the violence and the Home Minister (Basavaraj Bommai) and Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa should take responsibility. There should be a judicial enquiry into the incident," Siddaramaiah said.
Before addressing reporters, Siddaramaiah met the families of the victims of Thursday's incident. The victims, Abdul Jaleel and Nauseen were both daily-wage labourers. Members of Abdul's family reiterated Siddaramaiah's call for a judicial enquiry into the deaths.
"He was not part of the protests. He wanted to ensure his children were back home. Police say that protesters were wearing kerchiefs but what can we do when tear gas is used?", Mohammed Nazeer, a relative of Abdul said.
Abdul and Nauseen were also booked for rioting by police officials at Mangaluru North Police Station.
â€śThose who died are named as Accused number 3 and 8. Innocent people have been arrested. Police and govt triggered the violence and Home Minister CM should take responsibility. There should be a judicial enquiry,â€ť he said.
Siddaramaiah also spoke against the imposition of Section 144 of the CrPC, which curtailed movement of more than five people. Section 144 was imposed between December 19 and 22. â€śAccording to me, there was no need to impose Section 144. It was imposed even though situation did not warrant. If Section 144 was not imposed, peaceful protests would be held because it is a fundamental right to protest any wrong policy of the government. There is scope to disagree. I can protest, express dissent. Intentionally, Section 144 was imposed to infringe on rights of people,â€ť he said.