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A fact-finding committee on the Bengaluru Riots formed by Citizens for Democracy, consisting of retired judges, journalists, and bureaucrats, has said in its report that the riots were pre-planned and organised and specifically targeted certain Hindus in the area. It has also said that the rioting bore stark resemblance to the violence witnessed in Delhi earlier this year and in Sweden more recently. The Committee was headed by retired district judge Srikanth Babaladi.
The fact-finding committee also discovered that the local populace was actively involved in the execution of the riots and also had prior knowledge about it. The report added, “Despite attempts being made to project the same as political rivalry, it was undoubtedly communally motivated. The Committee is of the opinion that based on the kind of houses that have been attacked and people who have been targeted, the motive of the riots could also be fear mongering so as to change the demography and turn the area into a Muslim majority one.”
The Committee also said that SDPI and PFI were involved in the planning and execution of the incident. The report also mentions that the mob attacked the house of Naveen, the primary target of the mob’s wrath. It states, “Another group of rioters attacked the house of Naveen, much in the same manner as they attacked Srinivas Murthy’s house. As there was no security at Naveen’s residence, the rioters managed to break into the house and run amok while members of Naveen’s family had to quickly take shelter in their neighbour’s house. They used petrol bombs, stones, metal rods to destroy the house. Rioters used kerosene, petrol and other inflammable chemicals to set the house on fire.”
Naveen’s father, Pavan Kumar, told the Committee, “Upon personally witnessing the attack on the house me and my wife with my daughter and her children were scared for life and moved to the first floor and from there through a back door jumped into the neighboring house and got a shelter”. He stated further, “The unruly crowd gathering in front of the house threw petrol bombs on the house, poured kerosene in the house on sofa and furniture, and torched the house to burn. At the time of attack they have destroyed most of the furniture, electronic items and important documents. They have looted cash of around 5 lakhs, watches, gold chains belonging to me and around 15 lakhs of rupees of cash and jewels of my wife. One of the Muslim women from the neighboring house come to the rescue of my wife and helped her escape”.
Arun Gowda, an active member of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike who was with his 8-month pregnant wife at the time, told the Committee that his house was attacked and vandalised by Muslim youth of the same locality. Apart from attacks on the homes of Hindus, two police stations were damaged. KG Halli PS was partially damaged while DJ Halli PS was severely damaged. The report also noted that the mob was raising ‘Allah-hu-Akbar’ and ‘Nara-e-Taqbeer’ slogans.
Based on its findings, the report said, “The pattern of the riots is common with that of Delhi and Sweden. Therefore, it is imperative for the state to investigate the incident holistically and not consider them to be isolated and local.” It also recommended, “Potential areas that might face such communal tensions must be identified by the Police in advance and short-term and long-term plans must be made to curb such tensions.”
The report recommends, “With the abolition of Section 66A of Information Technology Act, 2000, a mechanism has to be evolved to prevent and prosecute derogatory, abusive and hate content targeting any religion, race, class, organisation or sect of people.” It further recommends that investigations must be carried out to determine how the mob was able to procure weapons and petrol bombs at such a short notice.
Apart from monitoring the activities of PFI and SDPI, the Committee also said that the Karnataka Government must constitute a committee to study the source of religious extremism in the state. It was also of the opinion that demographic changes in major cities in the state should be studied and the role of illegal immigrants should be investigated in the rioting.
The Bengaluru Riots
A Muslim mob went on a rampage and unleashed extreme violence in Bengaluru on the 11th of August over a Facebook post that was allegedly derogatory to Prophet Mohammad. Subsequently, FIRs have been filed which names five individuals who are said to have led a mob of 200-300 on that particular day.
Three people were killed and more than 60 police personnel were injured in the stone-pelting and the subsequent riots unleashed by the irate Muslim mobs. At least 10 vehicles, including Innovas of two DCPs, were damaged in front of the stations. The mob also set fire to the vehicles in front of the DJ Halli police station.