Police personnel try to stop arsonists from throwing stones during a procession as tension spread in Shivamogga town, India, on February 21, 2022, a day after the murder of a member of the right-wing outfit Bajrang Dal. (PTI Photo/Shailendra Bhojak)
MOB violence broke out in a south Indian city, leaving several people injured, following the murder of a Hindu activist over the weekend.
Harsha, 26, a member of the hardline outfit Bhajrang Dal, was allegedly stabbed to death by a group in Shivamogga, about 300 kilometres (186 miles) from Bangalore, on Sunday (20) night. The news of his death sparked violence which police brought under control.
However, fresh trouble began on Monday (21) during his funeral procession from a government hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
At least 20 people were injured in stone-pelting and some 50 vehicles set afire despite the police presence.
Hundreds of people took part in the procession defying prohibitory orders and several shops were ransacked along the route.
Six suspects have been arrested – including two in Bangalore – in connection with the killing and 12 others were questioned.
Shivamogga has remained under curfew following the violence, police told Eastern Eye, adding that the city was “peaceful” except for minor incidents where a few vehicles were damaged on Tuesday (22) morning.
Schools and colleges in the district will remain shut till Friday (25) as a precaution.
A minister in the state – ruled by prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party – controversially blamed “Muslim goondas” for Harsha’s murder. However, the police did not pinpoint any circumstances leading up to the killing that took place amid the raging issue of the ban on hijab in schools and colleges in the state. The government denied that the murder was linked to the hijab row.
The murder made national headlines, with #JusticeForHarsha becoming a top trend on Twitter on Monday.
Police in the communally sensitive coastal Karnataka booked a case against the Facebook page Mangalore Muslims for making provocative statements over the murder.
Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai appealed for peace, saying the government would get the murder investigated and punish the guilty “at the earliest”.
Police said all accused in the rioting have been identified, while state home minister Araga Jnanendra asserted that action would be taken against “whoever damaged property”.