Two people died after a “derogatory” Facebook post about the Prophet Mohammed sparked riots in India’s IT hub Bangalore that saw clashes between police and thousands of protesters, authorities said Wednesday. The deadly violence that erupted in Bangalore led to a paradox for congress.
The reason behind their keeping mum is the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political outfit of the Islamic fundamentalist organisation PFI — said to behind the riots — is in direct fight with the Congress over minority voters. The SDPI which has some presence in Karnataka has contested in the elections against the Congress in the past and has even damaged its prospects in some seats.
SDPI threatens congress’s hold over Muslim votes
Through its networks, SDPI has managed to gain some popularity, threatening Congress’s hold over the Muslim votes.
Over 100 people had gathered around the residence of Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivasamurthy around 7:00 PM on Tuesday. Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivasamurthy represents Pulikeshinagar constituency which is reserved for the Scheduled Caste (SC).
Read more: India locks down IT hub Bangalore
In Bengaluru, the SDPI-backed goons went on a rampage attacking a police station and setting the house of local Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivasamurthy on fire. When the police opened fire to control the situation, three people died.
Those who incited and perpetrated the #bangaloreriots must be found, arrested & given exemplary punishment. But they are not to be equated with an entire community any more than thugs & vigilantes represent all Hindus. This also happened in Bangalore: https://t.co/TCrfo6kU7k
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) August 12, 2020
Srinivasamurthy represents a constituency with a sizable minority population. The SDPI has been trying to make inroads into these constituencies.
The alleged insult to Prophet by an MLA’s relative led to widespread riots and arson. Congress seems to be in a dilemma over its response.
Indian Congress in conundrum: which side to take in this debate?
If it condemns the violence with full force, it fears the party might end up in helping the SDPI which anyway is eyeing minority votes and ownership of the community. If it does not condemn, the majority community might move further away from the Congress. The deadly violence in Bangalore puts the Congress party in a dilemma. The ruling BJP, which has nothing to lose politically, is closely watching the SDPI versus Congress fight. The deadly violence in Bangalore promotes its agenda of a violent Muslim minority. At least 60 officers were injured the previous evening as a furious crowd attacked a police station, set vehicles on fire and burnt down the house of a local lawmaker whose nephew was allegedly responsible for the social media post.
BJP has nothing to lose
The ruling BJP, which has nothing to lose politically, is closely watching the SDPI versus Congress fight. The deadly violence in Bangalore promotes its agenda of a violent Muslim minority.
At least 60 officers were injured the previous evening as a furious crowd attacked a police station, set vehicles on fire and burnt down the house of a local lawmaker whose nephew was allegedly responsible for the social media post.
Local media images showed protesters trying to barge into the police building and shouting slogans outside the politician’s home.
Police opened fire with live ammunition and tear-gassed the violent crowds. Three people were critically wounded during Tuesday’s violence and at least one reporter was injured, police told AFP.
People in bangalore today before the city getting completely locked down from 8PM 😂 pic.twitter.com/g59KvfWowX
— Debjit Sen (@DebjitSen) July 14, 2020
Media reports said the two people killed in the incident had died of gunshot wounds.
Bangalore police commissioner Kamal Pant wrote on Twitter that the lawmaker’s nephew had been arrested for the post, along with about 100 others for rioting and arson, and the situation was now under control.
India plagued by inter-religious violence
A ban on gatherings was in effect in some areas of the city on Wednesday, with nearly 10,000 police reservists patrolling the streets to keep order.
Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India and is home to a sizeable Muslim community among its eight million people.
India is officially a secular country but has been plagued by a long history of violence between its Hindu majority and Muslim minority.
More than 50 people were killed during religious riots in the capital New Delhi earlier this year, with most of the victims Muslims.
GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources