Shivamogga residents pick up pieces after mob violence
Mobs went on a rampage across several localities in the region, pelting stones, damaging homes and businesses
SHIVAMOGGA: Police patrolled streets in Shivamogga a day after a Bajrang Dal worker’s murder triggered violent protests and mob violence in the Karnataka district, around 250 km from Bengaluru. Residents clearing stones and debris from outside their homes on the OT Road, just off the busy city circle, described how a mob attacked their homes throughout Monday.
Mohammed Ali, a local businessman, said: “We were not home and did not expect it to go down like this.” The mob attacked two of his scooters, a car, and home.
The violence was triggered after a group of unidentified men killed Harsha, 26, the worker, on Sunday night. The Karnataka Police on Monday said they have detained three men from Bengaluru in connection with the murder. State home minister Araga Jnanendra did not identify them even as Harsha’s family and some ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders called the murder a hate crime motivated by religious identity.
The murder came amid tensions over the hijab ban in the state. Mobs went on a rampage across several localities, pelting stones, damaging homes and businesses.
Aslam Pasha, 59, another Shivamogga resident, said they were facing the brunt of statements political leaders such as state minister KS Eshwarappa and Pramod Muthalik, Sri Rama Sene chief, have made.
As Pasha was speaking to HT, another resident charged at him, saying the concrete blocks placed outside the former’s godown were used to attack their homes. “Put those stones inside right now. They used those stones to damage everything here,” said the man. Pasha said he could not imagine something like this could happen. A jeep soon stopped and the policemen in it calmed tempers.
A banner on Harsha, with “Hindu” in brackets, has been put up on a temple in the middle of a circle in Seegehatti, a few metres from his home. A large contingent of anti-riot Rapid Action Force and the local police were deployed with anti-riot gear as tensions continued to run high in the region.
On NT Road, a few people wearily watched TV news channels reporting from the area. Harsha lay in a pool of blood in this locality on Sunday night. “Stop shooting; everything is peaceful here,” said a biker, who did not stop to speak more.
Most people feigned ignorance about seeing Harsha being attacked fearing they may be taken away as “eyewitnesses”.