Two days after a violent mob pelted stones and burned down Congress MLA Akhand Srinivas Murthy's home in Kaval Byrasandra in Bengaluru, he returned to blackened walls and ashes of what remained of his ancestral home. As a platoon of the rapid action force kept guard on the main road, the legislator entered the narrow by-lanes to be greeted by his supporters and neighbours peeking from their balconies and rooftops.
Caught off-guard on Tuesday evening, Murthy and his family had just returned back home from ISCKON temple when he was told about a social media message allegedly posted by his nephew. Murthy, who with his brother and family visited the temple to offer puja on the occasion of Janmashtami, was clueless about the contents of the viral post. Sensing it had caused much damage, Murthy escaped before the crowd outside grew bigger.
Within minutes of the post going viral, a group of people gathered outside his home and demanded the MLA come out and apologise on behalf of his nephew. Soon, slogans were raised denouncing the MLA and stones pelted at his two-storied house, shattering windows.
The Dalit leader says he does not know exactly when petrol was thrown and before he could know it, his house of over 50 years went up in flames.
"I was born here, my father and even his father lived right here. Today they have targeted me, but I want to ask them what have I done?" he asked. "Was it pre-planned that they wanted to kill me?"
"If they were angry and a mistake was made, they should have gone to the police, but they did this instead. I have so many sentiments attached to this house, now it is all gone," he told CNN-News 18 on Friday.
After three entire days, Murthy made his way to the DJ Halli police station to officially file a complain against the vandalism and arson. When asked about his relationship with his nephew and whether he had any communication with the latter, the two-time MLA said, "They may be blaming my sister's son, but let it be anyone, whoever has done the mistake, let police take action and punish them."
But this statement from the Congress leader was contrary to the one he had shared on the night of the violence when he had recorded a video message claiming that his relative's Facebook account had been hacked and that the post was not from his nephew P Naveen.
When asked if he recognised any of the persons who had approached his home, Murthy said it could not possibly be people from his constituency as he regarded all of them as his family -- people who had voted him to power with a margin of over one lakh votes.
"In my constituency, we are like brothers and sisters. No religion divides us, we have all worked together. These were outsiders, so let the police investigate and whoever is responsible, let them be punished," he added.
The MLA who represented the Janata Dal Secular in 2013 and switched to the Congress five years later has called for a CID or CCB probe into the matter. So far the police have arrested 206 people and continue to investigate the matter.