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Agencies
August 13, 2020

Three killed in Bengaluru as anti-Islam Facebook post sparks clashes

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A
Agencies
August 13, 2020

BENGALURU: At least three people on Wednesday were killed during clashes with police in the Indian city of Bengaluru overnight over an anti-Islam Facebook post that sparked protests in which a police station was attacked, and a politician’s house and vehicles were torched.

Unable to quell protesters using batons and tear gas, besieged officers opened fire as they risked being overpowered during the violent unrest in a Muslim-dominated neighborhood, the southern city's police chief said on Wednesday.

"Despite elders of the community trying to pacify the crowd, the mob burnt vehicles on the road, they attacked the police station," Police Commissioner Kamal Pant said. "The police had no escape and they had to resort to firing and three people died," Pant said, adding that 110 people had been arrested for alleged vandalism and attacking the police.

A police official said an emergency law prohibiting gatherings had been imposed in Bengaluru, a city of 12 million people best known as India's Silicon Valley. Pant said the anti-Islam post has been deleted and the person who published it is under custody. Facebook did not immediately comment on the issue.

"What was written…. is the working of a sick mind with an intention to create violence," Congress Party lawmaker Dinesh Gundu Rao said on Twitter. "It is highly objectionable and such statements about any person revered by any community needs to be handled in the strictest way possible by the authorities."

Police gave the first name of the accused man as Naveen and said he is the nephew of another Congress politician, whose house was attacked and burnt in the violence. The politician, R. Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy, appealed for calm in a video message carried by media. "We're all brothers. Whatever crime has been committed, let the law teach them a lesson," Murthy said. "I appeal to our Muslim brothers and everyone else to maintain peace."

Television channels on Tuesday night showed a group of people gathered outside a police station, clashing with officers and burning several police vehicles. The videos showed the group later trying to force its way into the police station, and another group gathering outside the politician's house shouting slogans, throwing stones, and setting fire to vehicles parked along the road.

"We are investigating the issue and will make use of the CCTV footage to see who is behind these violent acts, and will take stringent actions," Basavraj Bommai, home minister of Karnataka state, told a news channel.

Pakistan strongly condemned the derogatory social media post against Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by an extremist from the majority Hindu community in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Pakistan conveyed its strong condemnation to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad over the "offensive post against Islam", what the Foreign Office spokesperson said had hurt Muslims and reflected the rising Islamophobia and targeting of the minority communities in India.

“The Indian police instead of preventing this hate crime against Muslims and Islam, used brute force, killed at least three protesters, and injured many more. “As an added injustice, the Muslim community in the area is being falsely framed for alleged vandalism and assault on police personnel,” the spokesperson said.

He said the rising incidents of religious hate crime in India were a direct and inescapable consequence of the RSS-BJP combine extremist ideology of Hindutva. He said the incident had been viewed with concern and the civil society in Pakistan had called for justice for the minority Muslim community in India. Pakistan called upon the Indian government to investigate the incident and take immediate action against the perpetrators of religious hatred.

The Indian government has also been called upon to ensure the safety, security and well-being of the minority communities, particularly Muslims, and take steps to ensure prevention of hate speech and hate crimes against Islam and protection of religious rights of Muslims.

The spokesperson also urged the international community, the United Nations and relevant international organizations to play their role against the rising tide of Islamophobia and ensure practical steps for the protection and religious rights of minorities in India.