Two men and a teenager were killed in communal clashes that erupted over a mosque being built on a disputed plot in Mysore, 140 km south of Bangalore, on Thursday.
Tension had been simmering between the two communities since April, when mosque authorities began construction despite a stay order issued by the district magistrate. The Huliyamma Temple, located half a kilometre away, had objected to construction of the mosque.
“Early on Thursday morning, the tension flared up into violence when a pig’s carcass was found inside the partly constructed place of worship,” Sunil Agarwal, commissioner of police, Mysore, told HT.
More than 20 people, including some inspectors and constables, were injured during pitched battles across Mysore that lasted till this afternoon. The rioters set ablaze a police jeep and about a dozen two-wheelers.
Curfew has been declared in the city’s Udayagiri and Mandi areas, Section 144 (which prohibits the congregation of more than four people) imposed elsewhere.
The situation is said to be “tense but under control”. The areas have been declared out of bounds for the media.
Karnataka has witnessed sporadic violence by religious groups loosely affiliated to the Sangh Parivar since the BJP came to power in 2008.
In January, goons belonging to the Sri Ram Sene had entered a pub in Mangalore and beaten up young men and women for “indulging in indecent acts” and for acting in a manner contrary to “Indian culture”.
A police officer in Bangalore, who is not authorised to speak to the media, identified the victims as Tirupathi, 40, a mason, and Mubarak Aktar, 40, a businessman. Both were stabbed to death.
The third victim, Junaid Pasha, 16, a student, succumbed to head injuries apparently sustained during the clashes. His relatives have alleged that he was killed in police firing.
To clear the air, the police will video-record his inquest and also allow a doctor chosen by his parents to be present while it is being carried out.
“We want them (Pasha’s family) to know the truth – that he did not fall to our bullets,” Agarwal said.
State Home Minister VS Acharya told HT: “We have requested personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force stationed in Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) to rush to Mysore to help us strengthen the security.”