89 held for Hubbali violence, Bommai assures strict action

Karnataka home minister Araga Jnanendra also said a mob surrounded the police station in Hubbali and attacked the cops in the early hours of Sunday
Hubbali Police said they had to use mild force and tear gas to disperse the mob. The district administration imposed prohibitory orders till April 20. (ANI)
Hubbali Police said they had to use mild force and tear gas to disperse the mob. The district administration imposed prohibitory orders till April 20. (ANI)
Published on Apr 19, 2022 12:27 AM IST
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By, Bengaluru

Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday warned of strict action against those guilty in connection with the violence in Hubbali over an alleged objectionable social media post, as police arrested 89 people in the case.

“Arrests have been made and an investigation is on. All those behind it, also leaders behind it, will face investigation and action will be taken against those guilty in accordance with law,” Bommai told reporters here.

Trouble began in old Hubbali district, 400kms away from Bengaluru, when an alleged objectionable post offending religious sentiments surfaced on social media late on Saturday night. The post allegedly showed a digitally altered image of a saffron flag flying over a masjid, Hubballi-Dharwad police commissioner Labhu Ram said.

Subsequently, the person who made the post – later identified as Abhishek Hiremath, a resident of Huballi town –was arrested after a case was registered on the basis of a complaint by local residents at the Udupi town police station.

However, not satisfied with the action, a few people gathered around the police station. They were persuaded and later dispersed from the spot, Ram said.

Later around midnight, a large number of people gathered around the police station and summoned police officials to apprise about the action taken so far. The mob, however, refused to listen to them and went on a rampage, damaging police vehicles, Ram said. They also resorted to stone pelting, he added.

Karnataka home minister Araga Jnanendra also said a mob surrounded the police station and attacked the cops in the early hours of Sunday. A police inspector was believed to have suffered critical injuries. At least 10 people were admitted to hospital with minor injuries.

Police said they had to use mild force and tear gas to disperse the mob. The district administration imposed prohibitory orders till April 20.

Most of the arrests were made on Monday based on CCTV footage from establishments near Old Town police station. More arrests are likely over the next few days as police have received more information about those involved in the violence, senior police officers stationed in Hubballi said.

The man who allegedly made the post was remanded to police custody till April 30.

On Monday, additional director general of police (law and order) Pratap Reddy, who has been appointed by the government to monitor the investigation, visited Hubballito take stock of the situation. The situation in the district is under control, Ram told reporters.

Hiremath’s lawyer, Sanju Badaskar said police produced Hiremath before the Fourth Judicial Magistrate First Class and an additional session’s judge from where he was sent to the Hubballi sub-jail.

“The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu Vakeelara Vedike presented the case in favour of Abhishek Hiremath. Tomorrow, the government is going to plead in the court and we will argue on behalf of Hiremath,” Badaskar said.

A petition will also be filed before the court to grant Hiremath permission to appear for the Pre-University Examination, he added.

Meanwhile, Union minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shobha Karandlaje urged the government to charge those involved in the violence under strict laws, including anti-terrorism charges.

“Culprits have attacked police stations, hospitals and vehicles citing posting of old videos on social media. The state government should slap the goonda act and terrorism act against them,” Karandlaje said.

Those involved in the violence should have persuaded police to take action instead of resorting to violence, Karandlaje said.

“The incident in Hubballi was trivial. The culprits could have urged the police to arrest the person who posted the video on social media. The state government is ready for that. But the government will not tolerate any act that challenges the system,” she said.

Leader of opposition and former chief minister Siddaramaiah said the government should ensure that “innocent people” are not arrested in the case.

“I did not get complete details of the Hubballi incident. I will contact the senior police officers of Hubballi and gather all details. Whoever has done the atrocities have to be dealt with as per law. However, innocent people should not be arrested without any evidence,” he said.

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