Murder to Instil Fear vs Self-Defence: Blame Game After 2 Killed in Mangalore CAA Protests
The police allege that some miscreants pelted stones at the police who requested them to disperse peacefully. But many locals dispute police claims.
Police personnel fire tear gas shells during their clash with the protesters participating in a rally against the amended Citizenship Act and NRC, in Mangaluru, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (Image: PTI)
Bengaluru: It was a black Thursday for Mangaloreans. The prosperous port city, which is always on the edge, witnessed large-scale violence post lunch. Defying prohibitory orders, a large number of people hit the streets, protesting against the implementation of controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), in older parts of the city, including in Bandar, and Hampanakatte.
The situation was calm till afternoon and the protesters were seen assembling at a few places. After lunch, a group of more than 500 protesters took out a procession near State Bank circle, shouting slogans against the CAA.
According to eyewitnesses, there was a clash between the armed police and the protesters. The police allege that some miscreants pelted stones at the police who requested them to disperse peacefully. They also claim that a mob surrounded a police station, threatening to burn it down and they had to open fire in self-defence after issuing several warnings. Two people died in the firing and a few others were injured.
“We tried everything to disperse the mob. Their own community leaders came to the spot and requested them to go back. But they did not listen to anyone. When the situation got out of control, we had to open fire. Before that, we had fired a few warning shots in the air,” claimed PS Harsha, Commissioner of Police, Mangalore.
But many locals dispute police claims. BM Farooq, MLC and national working president of the JD(S), dismissed the police version, calling it a “murder by the police to instill fear”. Farooq, a prominent Mangalorean, demanded that a murder case should be filed against the police.
Speaking to News18 over telephone, he said, “What has happened is horrible. Beyond words. It was a targeted killing in cold blood. No guidelines were followed. We hear that military grade weapons were used by the police. People were unarmed. We want strict action against them.”
According to Farooq, dozens of police carrying automatic weapons, teargas and lathis barged into ICU of “Highlands” hospital in the city beating the people including the patients.
“Injured were admitted to this hospital. Police behaved like goondas. They entered even the ICU,” he said. Police counter this charge claiming that some protesters were hiding inside the hospital.
“We asked them to come out. They refused and started attacking us. We had to rush inside,” a senior police officer said. But, the locals dismiss it as an attempt by the police to save their skin.
The former Mayor of Mangalore K Ashraf has also been injured in the clashes. Police claim that he was hit by the protesters. But, some of his supporters blame police firing for this.
There are several instances of alleged police brutality across Mangalore. Dozens of videos shot by the people are doing rounds claiming that police were attacking the commoners who had nothing to do with the CAA protests.
“Young boys were beaten mercilessly. Police even tried to separate a girl child from her father by force. They even attacked some media people,” locals said.
Dozens of journalists who had come from neighbouring Kerala to Mangalore to cover the protests were also detained by the police. They were later released by the cops and sent back from Karnataka. According to police hundreds of miscreants from Kerala had sneaked into Mangalore to create trouble and some media persons had no valid Identity Cards (IDs) with them.
“We detained some of them to check their authenticity. We did not trouble any genuine journalists,” said Dr. PS Harsha.
The BJP alleges that the lone Congress MLA from Mangalore city UT Khader is responsible for the violence and deaths. The Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has warned that strict action would be taken against Khader.
Attacking Yediyurappa for his comments, senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar said that BJP was responsible for the violence and party would not tolerate any attempts to “fix” their MLA in the incident.
A Congress delegation led by former home minister MB Patil and former Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar has been detained by the police at Mangalore Airport, the moment after their arrival from Bengaluru to assess the situation.
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