According to police, a crowd of almost a thousand people gathered in front of the KG Halli police station demanding that a Congress MLA's relative named Naveen be arrested.

Fire in KG Halli as police in riot gear enter
news Violence Wednesday, August 12, 2020 - 00:00

Violence has broken out in East Bengaluru, especially KG Halli, DJ Halli and Pulakeshi Nagar, after a Facebook post by a relative of Congress legislator Akhanda Srinivas Murthy reportedly insulting Prophet Mohammed created outrage.

According to police, a crowd of almost a thousand people gathered in front of the KG Halli police station demanding that the relative named Naveen be arrested. Hundreds also gathered outside the MLA's house and protested. Vehicles parked outside the MLA's house were torched. According to reports, the protesters did not allow fire engines to enter the street and to douse the fire.

Meanwhile, another group arrived at KG Halli police station to file a complaint but alleged that the police refused to file a complaint immediately. The situation quickly escalated after an under-construction house of the MLA adjoining to current residence was damaged around 8.30 pm. Around 25 minutes later, a much larger mob gathered outside the KG Halli police station and started raising slogans, pelting stones and even torching vehicles. DCP East Bhimashankar Guled’s official car too was attacked with stones and sticks. At DJ Halli, a police vehicle was set ablaze.

By 10.30 pm, reinforcement of police personnel from adjoining police stations arrived in two buses. Shots are being fired by the police in an attempt to disperse the crowd. The police force outside the police station have been unable to make their way through the crowd and enter the station. Eyewitnesses claim that for at least initial 10 minutes, the police either remained mute spectators or used very little force to handle the crowd even as the violence escalated. Even post midnight, the police force has been largely outnumbered, cornered outside the KG Halli police station.

Along with police in riot gear who were deployed to contain the violence, senior police officers including Commissioner Kamal Pant visited the spot. An official police car too was attacked and damaged, as per eyewitnesses. 

Reportedly, the MLA’s relative who was detained by the police for questioning claimed that his Facebook account was hacked and it was not he who actually posted the offensive message.

Media persons from Kannada news channel Suvarna News too were allegedly attacked by an angry mob while reporting live on the violence. Reporters Ravi and Pradeep have sustained injuries and are receiving treatment at the time of writing. Their cameras were reportedly smashed to stop them from covering the incident.

Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai released a video with an appeal for peace. “Whatever the issue is, we will investigate it, but vandalism is not the solution. We have deployed additional forces. I have given cops a free hand to  handle the situation. However powerful the guilty are, we will take action. But people must not take the law into their hands."

Meanwhile, MLA Srinivas Murthy has sent out a video message appealing for calm. "Hello, this is Srinivas Murthy from Pulikeshi Nagar. I request our Muslim friends, for the mistake of some miscreants, let's not fight. Whatever the fight, we're brothers. Whoever has made a mistake, let's teach them a lesson through legal means. We will also stand with you. Whoever has made the mistake, we will take steps to teach them a lesson. I request our Muslim kin to please remain peaceful. I will also stand with you.

The Week reported that Congress Chamrajpet MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan arrived at the DJ Halli police station and wanted the MLA's kin arrested. 

"The community is furious and the situation is going out of control. I am at the police station along with religious leaders of our community to file the complaint. We will stage a protest tomorrow," said Zameer Ahmed.

This is a developing story.

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