The Hubbali Police in Karnataka on Thursday, 21 April, took Wasim Pathan, the alleged mastermind behind the stone-pelting incident in the city, into custody. The police also took seven others into custody later in the evening in connection with the incident.
A total of 134 people have been arrested so far in the case. Meanwhile, Pathan claimed that he was innocent.
A protest over a social media post had escalated into violence in Hubbali, leaving police personnel injured and police property destroyed late on Saturday, 16 April.
"Hubbali stone-pelting master mind Wasim Pathan was taken into custody by Hubbali Police. He was absconding. Today, he was detained by the Hubbali police team in Mumbai and brought to Hubbali. He is likely produced to court later today [sic]," the Hubbali Police said, as per ANI.
Wasim Pathan Claims Innocence
Pathan released a video on Thursday morning and claimed that he was innocent. He stated in the video that he "climbed atop a police vehicle as per the instructions of the cops to pacify the crowd," reported IANS.
In the four-minute video, Pathan said that he was appealing to violent mobs to maintain peace.
"I have not instigated anyone and there is a conspiracy against me. The video that is out is a fabricated one," he said.
Meanwhile, Hubbali Commissioner of Police Labhu Ram said that Section 144 would continue to be in place in the area until Saturday. "Main case was registered in connection with 16 April night (stone-pelting) incident, while in connection with law & order situation we've registered 12 cases in which 134 arrests have been made. Section 144 to continue till Saturday morning in South Sub-Division 5 PS limit," the commissioner said.
Ram also informed that one student Abhishek who is in judicial custody has been granted permission by court to write the exam, and that arrangements will be made accordingly.
A local youth had purportedly posted a provocative message on social media, showing an altered picture of a saffron flag hoisted atop the mosque in Mecca, after which several people from the Muslim community in the city gathered outside the Old City police station, demanding action against the youth. Soon the mob's protests turned violent, and they began to pelt stones at police personnel and the station building.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, on Sunday, 17 April, had said such incidents would not be tolerated and those responsible would be punished. The Hubballi Police commissioner said 88 persons, including an All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) corporator's husband, had been arrested in the matter.
Home Minister Araga Jnanendra had called it a pre-planned attack. Former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, too, slammed the attack saying such acts should not continue.
More About the Incident
The police had to resort to mild lathicharge and fire tear gas shells to control the vandalism. Officials said that prohibitory orders had been imposed in the city following the violence.
Labhu Ram, Police Commissioner, Hubballi-Dharwad, told NDTV that six cases had been registered against those who caused the violence, adding that the situation was under control now.
The official said that the violence happened over an objectionable social media post that targeted members of the Muslim community.
A group of people reportedly filed a police complaint after a man posted the objectionable content. The police subsequently arrested him. But the complainants were not satisfied with the action and hence resorted to violence, he said.
(With inputs from ANI and IANS.)