Conflicts & War

3 die in police firing as communal riots erupt in southern India

New Delhi, Aug 12 (efe-epa).- Three people were killed in police firing in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, an official said on Wednesday, as violence broke out over an alleged derogatory social media post about Islam’s most revered figure, Prophet Mohammad.

Dozens of police officers and protesters were injured in clashes as a violent mob vandalized a police station in India’s IT hub and burnt down some police vehicles on Tuesday evening, a police officer told EFE, requesting not to be named as he is not authorized to the speak to the media.

“Three people died” in police action as security forces tried to quell the protesters who also set fire to the house of an opposition lawmaker, whose relative had allegedly shared the communally sensitive post on his Facebook page.

Police commissioner Kamal Pant said the accused, P. Naveen, has been arrested for posting the alleged “derogatory post”.

Video footage run by television channels since Tuesday night showed a group of people outside a police station, clashing with officers and setting several police vehicles on fire.

Another video showed a mob outside the residence of the lawmaker, who belongs to the opposition Indian National Congress, throwing stones at the house and attacking some vehicles parked outside.

Another Congress lawmaker, Dinesh Gundu Rao, condemned the post about the Prophet as “the working of a sick mind with an intention to create violence.”

“It is highly objectionable and such statements about any person revered by any community needs to be handled in the strictest way possible by the authorities,” Rao tweeted.

He said the law should be allowed to take its course and there are so many ways in a democracy to fight for justice.

“In today’s world of social media provocative words are written by crazy people. Let us condemn it. But violence is not the answer.”

Police have imposed a curfew in the violence-affected areas, and issued prohibitory orders banning people from gathering in the city known as the Silicon Valley of India.

Bengaluru has a sizable Muslim community among its nearly 10 million population.

The chief minister of Karnataka state, whose capital is Bengaluru, said his government would not tolerate violence.

“The government has taken all possible steps to curb the violence,” BS Yediyurappa tweeted. “The attack on police, media persons and common citizens is unpardonable. I appeal to people to act with restraint.”

India, officially a secular country, has been on a communal edge since December last year when the Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a controversial anti-Muslim citizenship law that triggered a wave of violent demonstrations across the country.

More than 50 people were killed in communal riots in the capital New Delhi earlier this year, with most of the victims Muslims.

Critics of the law say it undermines the secular nature of India’s Constitution because it fast tracks citizenship for persecuted non-Muslim minorities from neighboring Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Moreover, they underline that when coupled with the National Register of Citizens – which requires people to produce documents of ancestry to be enlisted as Indian citizens -, the law could be used to persecute Muslims, who account for 200 million of the country’s around 1.3 billion population. EFE-EPA

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