B’luru Violence: Muslim Youths Form Human Chain to Protect Temple
Volunteers of Swaraj India at DJ Halli Police Station had also formed a human chain in an attempt to stop the mob.
At around 10 pm on Tuesday, 11 August, Nadeem A and his friends were just finishing dinner at an eatery in Rahmat Nagar in Bengaluru when news of tensions on the ground at the DJ Halli police station reached them through various WhatsApp groups. Not knowing the severity of the situation, the group of eight young men decided to visit the spot on their two-wheelers shortly after dinner. The violence in the Karnataka capital on Tuesday claimed three lives.
When they reached the Kaval Byrsandra bus stop, a large crowd had already gathered outside Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy’s house over a communally-charged derogatory social media post that his nephew Naveen had allegedly put up.
‘There Were Two Types of People’
Nadeem recounted, “When we reached, just 100 metres from the bus stop, we saw two cars which were gutted already and there was a crowd moving towards the MLA’s house. We found the temple which was around 300 metres away on the other side of the MLA’s house. A group of men – around seven to eight – had gathered around the temple. We thought they were trying to damage it, but we realised that they were forming a human chain. So we decided to join them, and soon there were others who joined us.”
He added, “Initially, it was the local Muslim youth who formed the human chain so that we could protect the temple and prevent any further escalation of communal unrest. We ensured that nobody came near the temple. We stayed there until 12:30 am in the morning when the police dispersed us.”
Saqib, another person who was part of the human chain, said that the people who started the chain did not have any political affiliation. He pointed out, “Yesterday there were two types of people, one who wanted violence and one who wanted peace. There is no need to bring religion into this. The political party which is involved in creating yesterday’s incidents is known for these things and we as a community can’t be blamed for it.”
Another Human Chain
Nadeem and fellow members of the human chain were not alone. Volunteers of Swaraj India at the DJ Halli Police Station had formed a human chain in an attempt to stop a group of people from entering the police station after an episode of violence.
Zia Nomani, Youth President of Swaraj India, along with his colleague R Kaleem Ullah, rushed to the spot around 10 pm after getting frantic calls from volunteers about the incident.
A video of him trying to pacify the crowd using the public address system of a police car, along with MLAs Zameer Ahmed Khan and Rizwan Arshad, has gone viral.
“At that point, I was not even aware of what the issue was. When I reached the spot, the situation was already beyond tense. On the way, I had called the police commissioner, asking him to issue video statements to the effect Naveen will be arrested and the law will take its own course. When I reached there, already two vans were burning and even the basement of the police station was lit on fire. The crowd of 1,200 people was mad and the police were, at the most, 60 in number,” Zia recounted.
“The police at that time were scared as the crowd was adamant on setting the whole police station on fire. At this point, after discussing with the police, I thought if I could engage with the crowd — that would dilute the flaring tempers and buy the police time to arrange reinforcements,” he added.
But with no microphone available, he decided to risk taking a police car with a public announcement (PA) system and push crowds away from the police station. By then, Congress MLAs had also reached and joined him to address the crowd together.
However, their efforts to pacify the mob were futile.
“We told the crowd that this was not the way of the Prophet and we assured them that legal action had already begun. But they demanded that they wanted the accused’s head. We still tried to reason with them and some in the crowd left, but the miscreants were getting violent. They started calling us dalals and started pelting stones. At that time, the police felt the situation was getting out of hand and we returned after an hour,” said Zia.
There were religious leaders as well, like PM Muzammil of Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind and the imam of Goripalya Masjid, who reached the spot and urged the crowd not to take the law into their own hands.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)
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