It is being called the Bengaluru Riot.
But a riot traditionally is said to be one in which an unorganised group of people protest against a person, policy or another community.
But in Bengaluru it seemed like a well planned group of protestors armed with stones and staves who broke houses, set vehicles on fire, set the house of a Dalit MLA on fire, and damaged all public property in the vicinity.
They were seen screaming Allah-hu-Akbar’ and ‘Nara-e-Taqbeer’ outside the police station. And all this against the very MLA that the local Muslim community voted to power with a landmark victory.
MLA Akhand Srinivasamurthy, whose house was attacked, whose nephew Naveen is said to be the one who posted a graphic which allegedly had derogatory remarks about 'Mohammad' was addressing media sometime ago and said 'none of the protestors looked like they belonged to our area,'.
He had been requesting 'Muslim brothers to please keep peace' ever since the riot broke out last night. Even after various spiritual leaders of various mathas pledged their support to the Dalit leader, the MLA hasn't mentioned a word against the protestors.
Who then were these attackers? How and why did they attack a Dalit Hindu Congress MLA in a reserved constituency with almost 50 per cent Muslim population? What stopped Congress from reacting to the event until almost this noon?
What were the 3000 odd people doing outside the DG Halli police station if the said Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) member was there only to register an FIR against the social media post? Why has the SDPI distanced itself from the events that occurred?
Why didn't the protestors pay heed to 'Muslim Congress Leaders' like Zameer Ahmed who landed at the site even before the protest turned this violent?
Like we discussed in this article here, Bengaluru has burnt on more occasions than one in similar circumstances. The only difference is that the baton has been passed from the Congress to the new voice of the minority in the state the SDPI. The shift has begun in other parts of the state where the SDPI has managed to wrestle the seats from Congress' traditional strongholds.
And understanding the modus operandi and the demography of the constituency helps dissect the current turn of events with greater clarity and puts things in perspective.
The Pulakesinagar reserved constituency gave Congress its biggest victory last elections as Akhand Srinivas Murthy won by the highest margin. He secured 97,574 votes and won by a margin of 81,626 votes against JD(S) candidate B Prasanna Kumar who managed to get only 15,948 votes.
This when Murthy himself was previously in the JD(S) and jumped over to the Congress before the 2018 assembly elections along with Zameer Ahmed and others.
As per the voters eligible to vote in the 2018 elections, based on the last census, Muslims make for the highest votes in the caste based division in this constituency. It is also the constituency with the highest Muslim population after Gulbarga and one that would mean a huge victory for anyone who wants to hold the minority vote bank in the state.
The 2018 elections saw the least number of Muslim MLA's making it to the assembly in the last ten years. The number was reduced to seven, of which Shivajinagar went for by-elections with the former MP candidate Rizwan Arshad being fielded by the Congress in place of Roshan Baig who resigned during the major defection episode in 2019.
Muslim votes account for the highest share in Pulakesinagar constituency at a whopping 44 per cent of the total vote share (As per 2014 voter data).
The SC votes comes a far second at 19 per cent. And the SDPI which has been trying to make inroads in most Muslim dominated areas would only see it as befitting to try and make its presence in this area.
Muzammil Pasha who has been charged with inciting violence, and who has since been arrested, is a local SDPI leader who has unsuccessfully contested BBMP elections in the past.
And to map the riots to the last similar incident in the 1980's, the least number of Muslim MLA's in the state were again in the same period. The 1986 riots of Bengaluru took place during this term under the Chief Ministership of Ramakrishna Hegde when there were just two Muslim MLAs in the state. The number at present stands at seven, almost a 35 per cent reduction from the previous 11.
What better than a 'comment' made by a nobody to be turned into an issue to rile up a section of a community that is riding high on the 'injustice meted out to the Babri masjid' and the bruises which were gnawed at again with the mega Bhumi pujan?
The SDPI has been vocally condemning the building of the Ram Mandir and demanding for the return of the 'Babri Land' on all its social media pages.
And the Congress has hence kept mum except for diplomatically worded statements that 'want both communities' to maintain peace and order. This when there is no 'other community' in question.
It was an individual's comment on a social media post, which was woven into a narrative by those who catapulted it into a comment by a 'Hindu' against the entire community and their sacred beliefs.
For there was nothing else the Congress could do. It could neither be loudly vocal for its own MLA as that would mean cornering the Muslims nor could it vouch for the Muslims as it is trying hard to be 'Hinduer than thou' in recent times.
And the SDPI has called it a natural reaction of the masses owing to police inaction even as it distanced itself from the violence. "The police neither booked a case nor arrested Naveen till late night. The crowd turned aggressive,” said SDPI Karnataka president Elyas Mohammed Tumbe, as quoted.
Adding that, 'the police are shifting the blame on SDPI to cover up their failure,' Tumbe has said Pasha was only helping calm the tempers.
The SDPI, the political outfit of the PFI, has been systematically dismantling the Congress seats even at the Urban local bodies. 'Hatao, hatao, Congress hatao,..' was its chorus when it won punctured the seat count of the Congress in the ULB elections in Dakshina Kannada in 2018.
Even in a Congress stronghold like Ullal, the constituency of former health Minister U T Khader, which is a communally sensitive area of Dakshina Kannada close to the Kerala border, the SDPI which last elections had one seat took the numbers to six this time around dealing a heavy blow to the Congress.
Today, Tumbe reiterated their 'anti-Congress' stand with Tumbe even asking former CM and Congress leader Siddaramaiah to leave the Congress.
The Social Democratic Party of India was founded in 2009 and is a political arm of the Islamic fundamentalist organisation, Popular Front of India(PFI). The PFI was founded in 2006 as 'a cover for the National Development Front (NDF) that was created in 1993 to protect the interests of Muslims'.
And while it has been banned in Jharkhand, in Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan himself has opposed the ban saying it is organisations like the RSS that need to be banned. This when the SDPI has also been accused of conducting arms training in parts of Kerala.
The SDPI has also been named in various anti-CAA protests that turned violent earlier this year.
They or their cadre have been reportedly involved in many controversial and violent activities such as posting inciteful messages against the Prime Minister and Home Minister, threatening Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan with death, attempting to kill South Bengaluru MP Tejasvi Surya and activist Chakravarthi Sulibele earlier this year, threatening the centre to 'take it down' with them.
This arm of the PFI is also said to have links with the banned terror outfit SIMI.
With the recent Bengaluru events the SDPI has once again reiterated its silent hold over the Muslim masses and its intention to steal the minority vote bank from under the Congress's nose.
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