Bengaluru: How rioters cornered cops with guerrilla-like attack, discreet planning
On Tuesday, outraged over a "derogatory" Facebook post about Prophet Muhammad, thousands of rioters set various pockets of Karnataka's East Bengaluru on fire, while the police struggled to contain the violence. The episode that took three lives may not have been spontaneous after all, as cops came face-to-face with a guerrilla-like attack that lasted longer than they anticipated, a report in TOI suggested.
A Facebook post, uploaded by a relative of Congress MLA R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, hurt sentiments of hundreds of believers of Islam who ascended at KG Halli Police station demanding action against the accused. When police suggested dialogue, the complainants got outraged and started riots in Kavalbyrasandra, KG Halli, and DJ Halli, which come under KG Halli and DJ Halli Police stations.
The mindless violence started around 7 pm and continued till 2 am on Wednesday. The skirmishes got more dangerous after 10 pm when the rioters locked KG Halli and DJ Halli Police stations, torched dozens of vehicles, and burnt tires. Seniors of Bengaluru Police had never seen a riot going on for so long. For newer recruits, the episode was an unforgettable experience.
According to the TOI report, police officers struggled to tread the roads in pitch darkness as rioters had damaged streetlights. They kept burnt items like tires in the middle of the road to ambush cops. At almost every step, cops were welcomed with bricks and bottles, forcing them to request additional reinforcement. At least 70 police personnel were injured.
Police Commissioner Kamal Pant said just as he was walking with 75 personnel through KG Halli's lanes, the team was "showered" with flower pots, stones, bottles, wooden logs, and bricks. "Our personnel's protective shields broke and my men were injured. That is when we ordered firing in the air," he said. The rioters didn't allow a fire tender to reach KG Halli station, either.
"Half-a-kilometer before the station, a mob blocked our path. They smashed the glasses of our vehicle. We were pulled out and some of them started beating us," a fire official said, adding that when armed cops came for their help, the mob surrounded them too.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka government has ordered a magisterial probe into the riots. The report could be submitted within three months. Separately, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the damages to public property would be recovered from the rioters. "This will be done as per the Supreme Court directions in place," he added. Police have reportedly identified 145 people involved in the violence.
On a related note, Naveen, Murthy's MLA who uploaded the inciting post, has been arrested. "Also a total of 110 accused arrested for arson, stone-pelting, and assault on police. Appeal to all to cooperate with police to maintain peace, (sic)" Pant's tweet read.