‘The MLA is very popular among Muslims. What happened on August 11 was unfortunate but it is not going to hurt the relationship between Muslims and Dalits’
NEW DELHI – A group of Ulema (Muslim religious scholars) led by the Amir-e-Shariat of Karanataka, Maulana Saghir Ahmad Reshadi, on Sunday met Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy whose house in Bengaluru’s DJ Halli area was vandalised by an alleged mob of Muslims on August 11 following an outrageous Facebook post, allegedly written by his nephew Naveen.
The Muslim delegation expressed its regret over the vandalism and offered to rebuild the legislator’s house.
“Muslim religious leaders from Karnataka visited the house of MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy to ask his permission to reconstruct his house that was damaged in the Bengaluru violence. Now, will the media highlight this to show the generosity of Muslims?” said a post on Twitter.
Muslim religious leaders from Karnataka visited the house of MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy to ask his
permission to reconstruct his house that was damaged in the Bangalore violence.
— αgαιηsтнεcυяяεηт (@iamwithtruth1) August 16, 2020
Meanwhile, a 24-year-old youth who was arrested and sent to judicial custody in connection with the violence died at a government hospital on Saturday following a surgery. The news comes amid reports that 35 more accused have been arrested in connection with the Bengaluru violence, taking the total number of arrests in the incident to 340.
The deceased, Sayyad Nadeem, belonging to KG Halli in east Bengaluru, was reportedly found to be covid-positive and did not respond to the post-operative treatment due to subsequent complications, Additional CP (Administration) Hemant Nimbalkar said. Sources at the hospital said Nadeem was injured in the stomach, allegedly the result of teargas shelling by the police.
Three people had died when the police opened fire to control the mob.
The imposition of Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in areas under DJ Halli and KG Halli police station limits has also been extended till 6 am on August 18. The situation in the area remains tense. Section 144 has been extended twice in the area.
An FIR was also registered on the complaint of Murthy at the DJ Halli police station three days after the violence. “An FIR is registered at DJ Halli Police Station on the complaint of MLA A. Srinivas Murthy. As per the complaint, 2,000-3,000 people set his house and other properties including vehicles, on fire on August 11. Gold and silver items, vehicles and other things worth Rs 3 crore were robbed as per the complaint,” said the police.
The Muslim delegation’s meeting with Murthy was held in a cordial atmosphere. He is said to have expressed his gratitude to the delegates and said that ideally he himself should have reached out to Ulema.
Murthy represents the Pulakeshinagar constituency in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. He represented the constituency during 2013-2018 as a member of the Janata Dal (Secular). Later, he switched to the Congress and won the 2018 assembly polls securing the highest margin of votes.
According to Masood Abdul Qadir, head of the Muttahida Mahaz, Murthy is hugely popular in his constituency in which Muslims are nearly 50 percent of the population. “The MLA is very popular among Muslims. What happened on August 11 was unfortunate but it is not going to hurt the relationship between Muslims and Dalits,” said Abdul Qadir.
Murthy is a Dalit, and, after the incident, the Bharatiya Janata Party claimed that he was targeted because of his background. Abdul Qadir, whose Muttahida Mahaz (United Front) is a federation of various Muslim organisations representing various schools of thoughts in Karnataka, said that despite the BJP propaganda, Muslim-Dalit relations were intact. “We are going to meet Dalit leaders tomorrow. If possible, we may hold a joint press conference with them,” he said, adding, a meeting of Muslim leaders with Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa is also planned for tomorrow.
The Karanataka unit head of Jamaat Islami Hind, Dr. Belgami Saad, too, welcomed Muslim delegation’s meeting with Murthy. “We are trying our best to ensure that normalcy returns sooner than later. Police have arrested more Muslims. This should stop,” he said.
PFI demands probe
The Popular Front of India (PFI), whose political wing, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), has been implicated by the police in the Bengaluru violence, has demanded release of all the innocents arrested after the August 11 incident and sought a judicial inquiry into Dj Halli & KG Halli incidents.
PFI’s Karnataka unit said that “the hurtful and derogatory comments about Prophet Muhammad by a racist individual named Naveen posted on social media was aimed at creating hatred and hurting the sentiments of Muslims. He has been posting similar hateful contents for quite some time. This was the prime reason that caused the incidents leading to the violence. Popular Front Karnataka condemns such malicious and criminal attempts of inciting the religious sentiments. Popular Front demands that stringent penal sections be charged against the culprit.”
Saying that a timely police action could have averted the violence, PFI condemned the disturbances, attack on police station and the vandalism in DJ Halli. It is “highly unfortunate,” it said.
“Blaming and accusing SDPI and arresting the party leaders on this incident are questionable. SDPI local leaders were working in cooperation with the police throughout the incident. They were pacifying the public in the presence of the police and local Ulema, using the PA system of the police department. Despite their relentless efforts to douse the fire of the situation, the police are now accusing them for the violence, which is outright unethical and condemnable, the PFI Karnataka unit said.