The National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a chargesheet, recently presented in a special court in Bengaluru, cited that the violence that erupted in the city on August 12, 2020, was part of a larger conspiracy by the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) to create communal disharmony in the country. Dalit Congress MLA R Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy’s house and two police stations were torched in August over a Facebook post by the MLA’s nephew Naveen. The NIA charge sheet said that SDPI cadres provoked him with a derogatory message to insult Hindu gods in a social media post and tagged him to incite violence.
"The SDPI in Bengaluru was unhappy with the decisions of the Union government on certain matters which are repeal of Article 370, issue of CAA/NRC, Supreme Court verdict on Babri Masjid case, Triple Talaq etc. They were waiting for an opportunity to create communal disharmony and thereby create unrest in the country,” the chargesheet stated.
Reacting to the chargesheet, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said it was a conspiracy by the SDPI and added that social media had become an easy tool for such organisations. "These handlers (of social media) are not only in India, but also outside. I am confident that justice will be done," Bommai told reporters.
The National Investigation Agency took up the investigation following orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs. The agency has named 247 people as accused in the case, according to NIA sources. After prime accused Fairoz Pasha joined the SDPI, Mohamed Shariff, Muzammil Pasha and other SDPI Bengaluru district leaders hatched a criminal conspiracy, it said.
"In furtherance to the conspiracy, they decided to post some derogatory message to insult and provoke Hindu gods and the Hindu community through Fairoz Pasha's Facebook account," the NIA said. It added that the conspirators intentionally selected August 11, 2020 because it was ‘Krishna Janmashtami’, an auspicious day for Hindus.
The agency said SDPI cadres were well prepared to respond to any situation and to execute their plans for a violent attack. Accordingly, on August 11 afternoon, Fairoz Pasha posted a video and audio clip, it said. “Blasphemous and utterly derogatory comments [in English] were made on Hindu gods and goddesses,” the chargesheet said, adding that Fairoz then tagged Naveen in the post and provoked the latter to respond in a similarly aggressive manner against Prophet Mohammed.
After noticing Naveen's reply, Fairoz approached Muslim community members and organisation leaders for lodging a complaint against him and pressurise the police and government to act against Naveen, it said. The post was widely circulated in WhatsApp and other social media accounts. Fairoz then mobilised SDPI cadres and others to attack the houses of Naveen and Murthy along with the KG Halli, DJ Halli police stations and police personnel, stated the charge sheet.
Four people were killed in the violence including three in police firing and one due to abdominal injuries while many vehicles and shops were torched and damaged inside and outside the police stations.
The city police, which is investigating the case simultaneously, has accused former Congress Mayor R Sampath Raj, who is a corporator of DJ Halli ward, of being part of the conspiracy to politically damage his own party's MLA Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy. Sampath remained absconding for many weeks before he was finally caught. He is now out on bail.