A brief lull in communal activities has been broken by three different hate crime incidents spread across Karnataka over the past few days.
While a saffron flag was hoisted on a mosque in Bidar district a few days ago, six pick-up trucks carrying beef from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh were waylaid, one of them was torched and its occupants were assaulted early on Sunday near Bangalore. In another incident, two men barged into a mosque in coastal Karnataka and shouted “Jai Shri Ram”.
Police managed to arrest 28 Sangh Parivar activists in the three incidents.
Activists of Sangh Parivar outfit Sree Rama Sene, led by one Sundaresh Naragal, had waylaid the six pick-up trucks laden with beef ferried from Hindupur in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh around 5.30am on Sunday. They intercepted the vehicles in Doddaballapur, some 50km from here. They allegedly assaulted the drivers and other occupants in the vehicles, paraded them with severed heads of the cattle on their own heads and set fire to one of the pick-up vans before the police arrived.
The incident sparked tension in Doddaballapur town, which falls in Bangalore rural police district, for several hours. Heavy police presence doused the simmering tension.
The police later arrested 21 members of Sree Ram Sene, one of the several
Sangh Parivar organisations whose vigilantes often make such interceptions of vehicles carrying cattle or meat, and attack inter-faith couples.
Mallikarjun Baldandi, Bangalore rural superintendent of police, told reporters that the pick-up trucks were loaded with about 18 tonnes of meat.
Seven men, including the six drivers, were booked under the anti-cow slaughter law enforced by the previous BJP government for illegal transportation of cattle meat. The Sene activists were booked under penal sections for dacoity, assault using dangerous weapons, arson, rioting and unlawful assembly.
A local court remanded all those arrested to judicial custody pending further investigations.
Weeks after assuming power, chief minister Siddaramaiah had announced that the government would revisit The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Act 2020 enacted by the BJP government. However, no follow-up action has been taken yet.
The police in Dakshina Kannada district arrested two suspected Sangh Parivar sympathisers for barging into a mosque in Kadaba and shouting “Jai Shri Ram” before escaping on their motorbike late on Sunday.
The police identified the two youths, both aged about 25, from security cameras in the mosque. The police said the two men entered the Mardhala Badriya Juma Masjid around 11pm and chanted “Jai Shri Ram” several times.
They escaped upon seeing the imam of the mosque. Keerthan and Sachin were arrested on Monday.
The police in Bidar arrested four men for hoisting a saffron flag atop a mosque in Dhannur, Basavakalyan taluk of the north Karnataka district. The incident was reported on September 20 when the four youths removed the saffron flag from a nearby Hanuman temple and hoisted it atop the mosque.
Bidar superintendent of police Channabasavanna L. told reporters that the accused had admitted to the act and said they wanted to disturb peace in the village.
“We held a peace meeting with members of both communities soon after removing the saffron flag,” said the officer.