HUBBALLI: A large number of people allegedly went on a rampage damaging many police vehicles, a nearby hospital and a Hanuman temple in the old town of Hubballi in Karnataka and injured some police officers on duty over a social media post in the early hours of Sunday.
“Prohibitory orders under Section 144 has been clamped in Hubballi city,” said police.
“Around 40 people have been arrested and some FIRs have been registered. Twelve of our officers on duty were injured and some police vehicles were damaged. We have taken all precautionary measures so that such incidents do not occur again. We will not spare those who have taken law into their hands,” Hubballi-Dharwad police commissioner Labhu Ram told reporters.
According to him, someone had posted a social media post, which others took objection to and lodged a police complaint. Subsequently, the person was arrested and a case was registered.
Not satisfied with the action, some people started gathering around the police station. They were persuaded and later dispersed from the spot.
Around midnight, a large number of people once again started gathering around the police station, the officer said, adding that their leaders were summoned to the station and apprised about the action taken so far.
However, the mob outside the station was not ready to listen to them and they went on a rampage, Labhu Ram said, adding that the mob damaged some police vehicles as they resorted to stone pelting.
“In this incident, about a dozen police officers have sustained injuries,” the police commissioner said.
“We will not spare those who took law into their hands. We have taken all preventive measures to stop repetition of such incident,” Labhu Ram said.
The use of a huge number of stones made police suspect that a truckload of stones and bricks were used in the crime.
Speaking to reporters in Hosapete, the district headquarters town of the newly carved Vijayanagara district, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai termed it as an organised attack and said those organisations behind it should know that the state will not tolerate such incidents.
“I want to tell very clearly that whoever takes law into their hands, our police will not hesitate from taking stringent action against them (rioters). Whoever they may be… Hence, whoever is behind it and instigated the mob will be punished. I want to tell the organisations behind such incidents, not to break the law. Karnataka state will not tolerate it,” Bommai said.
He also appealed to the people not to give different political colour to this incident as it should be looked at from the law and order point of view.
Replying to a query, “If a large number of people gather outside the police station, certainly it means that it was an organised crime.”
State home minister Araga Jnanendra said some police officers have sustained injuries, including the inspector of Old Town police station.
“A police officer is in a serious condition. Some people involved in the attack have been arrested. It was a pre-planned attack. The miscreants wanted to create Devara Jeevanahalli and Kadugondahalli like incident in Hubballi,” Jnanendra said.
The home minister was referring to the 2020 riot in Bengaluru where about 4,000 Muslims set on fire the residence of Congress MLA from Pulakeshi Nagar assembly constituency in Bengaluru R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy and his sister over a social media post by his relative.
The mob then torched many vehicles and set the DJ Halli and KG Halli police stations afire. In that incident, four people were killed including three in police firing.
Reacting to the Hubballi rampage, senior BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal demanded that the government should act tough against the miscreants in a way that they should never think of repeating the incident.
Denouncing the incident, former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy said it was not proper for vested interests to create rift between communities for their personal gain.
In a series of tweets, the JD(S) second-in-command said those who took law into their hands should have reposed faith in the system.
“For the past few days communal cauldron is boiling. It hurts everyone. It should not continue. The Hubballi incident shows that we have not learnt any lessons from the past,” Kumaraswamy said.