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Broken Windows, Torched Vehicles, Deserted Roads: Violence-hit Bengaluru Area Resembles War Zone

The damaged vehicles in Bengaluru

The damaged vehicles in Bengaluru

The violent crowd set police vehicles on fire and barged into DJ Halli police station on the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday and damaged the property.

Areas under Pulakeshinagar assembly constituency resembled a war zone on Wednesday, hours after an unruly mob went on a rampage torching vehicles, irked over a "communally sensitive" social media post allegedly put up by a relative of a Congress MLA.

Charred vehicles, shards of glass from broken windows, stones and bricks could be seen strewn on deserted roads of the violence-affected localities.

Three people were earlier killed in police firing and scores of others wounded, including at least 50 policemen, in the violence and arson that erupted in the city on Tuesday night and continued till the early hours of Wednesday.

Bikes that were set on fire by the mob on Tuesday night.

The property of Congress legislator Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy and his family members was targeted after a "communally sensitive" social media post uploaded by one of his relatives enraged a section of people. "We were not at home when all this happened," said Jayanthi, the MLA's sister, weeping inconsolably. "The only solace is that my brother and his family are safe."

"Yesterday, some unknown people set my house on fire, they hurled petrol bombs," said Srinivasa Murthy. "The police should investigate and take action against culprits. If this can happen to an MLA, what would happen to others?"

The MLA said he has spoken to the state Home Minister and sought security cover. "I have spoken to the Home Minister, police officials and my party leaders over the incident. All those who did this are not from my constituency, they are outsiders. It will be good if I get security," he added.

The violent crowd set police vehicles on fire and barged into DJ Halli police station on the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday and damaged the property. About 110 people have been arrested so far on charges of rioting.

The police station that was damaged by the mob.

The incident also drew reactions from political leaders, with Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa saying strict action would be taken against the perpetrators. "The directives issued against perpetrators and the government has taken all possible steps to curb the situation. Attack on journalists, police and public is unacceptable. The government won't tolerate such provocations and rumours. Strict action against perpetrators is certain," he said.

Murthy also put out an appeal on social media asking for calm. "For the fault of some miscreants, let us not fight among ourselves. Whoever has done that, let police and government take action legally. I am also with you to see that whoever it is, is punished. Please maintain calm," he said.

Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said strong action will be taken against those taking the law into their hands.

"Looting, rioting, arson — all this is criminal. Whatever you want to do, what issues you want to take up, please take up issues legally," said Bommai, adding that additional police forces have been sent to bring things under control. "We have given complete powers to the police to take action. Whoever has gone against the law, we will take strict action. I want to warn the mobsters against taking the law into your own hands."

Senior Congress leader and former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah condemned the violent incident and the social media post. "I condemn both violent incident that erupted in Kaval Byrsandra & also the social media post that instigated the mob. I humbly request both Hindus & Muslims of the area to stay calm, maintain peace & live in harmony," he wrote on Twitter.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in a statement said, "Riots and arson are reprehensible, condemnable and unacceptable, and it is a complete failure of the law and order machinery and rule of law."

The Congress raised questions about the role of the police and the Yediyurappa government. "Was the Yediyurappa government sleeping or waiting for violence to happen. And, why did the police not act in time? Who is responsible for the three deaths?" asked Surjewala.

The statement came after the BJP leaders questioned the silence of the Congress on the whole incident.

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