The National Investigation Agency’s chargesheet, filed in the August 2020 Bengaluru riots case, says that the violence was not spontaneous and the plotters behind the riots were aggrieved over the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, according to media reports.
The 7,000-page chargesheet has been filed against 247 persons under UAPA, IPC sections 120B, etc. As many as 47 people named in the chargesheeted are allegedly linked to the Popular Front of India (PFI) and the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI).
The NIA investigation into the Bengaluru riots showed that social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, were used to spread ‘terror among people and to mobilise crowds to gather at and attack the KG Halli Police Station’.
The chargesheet reiterates that the attack on the police station, the general riot and arson were not spontaneous acts, but were pre-planned by some elements opposed to the CAA and NRC.
On August 11, 2020, riots had broken out in DJ Halli and KG Halli areas of Bengaluru following a Facebook post by Naveen, nephew of Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, a Congress MLA. Huge mobs gathered in a short while and attacked the MLA’s house and also the police station.
SDPI rejects charges, alleges witch hunt
Meanwhile, the SDPI, reacting to the NIA chargesheet in connection with the Bengaluru riots, has alleged that the NIA is trying to ‘fix the SDPI’ and that it will move the court to contest the charges.
Fact-finding report said ‘riots were pre-planned’
In September 2020, a fact-finding report by the Citizens for Democracy submitted to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had said that the Bengaluru riots were 'pre-planned, organised communally motivated'.
The report had said that the mob during the riots on August 11 night had specifically targeted certain prominent Hindus in the area, and the entire incident qualifies to be a 'riot against the state' with the motive of 'reducing the faith of common people in the state'.
PTI reported that the Citizens for Democracy is a platform of responsible citizens that claims to be committed to democratic values, safety and security of the citizens of India.
Started in 2011, it has conducted various seminars, campaigns on topics of national and social importance.
Citizens for Democracy in a statement said the fact finding committee comprising prominent representatives of the society was formed to look into recent violence, as it is imperative to survey the incident neutrally without any bias or vested political interests with a sole commitment towards truth.
The fact finding panel headed by retired District Judge Srikanth D Babaladi, had retired IAS officer Madan Gopal, retired IFS officer R Raju among others which include retired bureaucrats, journalists, advocates, professors and social workers.
Committee members led by Madan Gopal submitted the report to Yediyurappa today.
Noting that it is estimated that nearly 36 government vehicles, nearly 300 private vehicles and many houses were destroyed in the violence, the committee has said the damage could be estimated to be nearly Rs 10 to 15 crores.
It could be seen from the FIRs and certain interactions with the victims, that local people were also involved in carrying out this riot, the committee said, 'it is of the opinion that the locals were not only involved in execution but were also aware about it in advance.' 'Despite attempts being made to project the same as political rivalry, it was undoubtedly communally motivated.
The panel is of the opinion that based on the kind of houses and people targeted, the motive of the riots could also be fear mongering so as to change the demography and turn the area into a Muslim majority one,' it said.
It was also of the view that SDPI and PFI were involved in planning and execution of this incident.
The violence in D J Halli and adjoining areas on August 11 night was unleashed by hundreds of people over an inflammatory social media post allegedly put out by P Naveen, a relative of Pulakeshinagar Congress MLA R Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy.
The MLAs residence and a police station at D J Halli were torched by rioters who also set many police and private vehicles afire, and looted the belongings of the legislator and his sister.
More than 300 people have been arrested in connection with the violence and investigation is on.
Also retired judge Justice H S Kempanna has been appointed as the 'Claim Commissioner' for assessment of damages caused during violence and to recover the costs from the culprits.
All the costs that have been incurred by the state and individuals have to be recovered by attaching the property of the rioters, the committee in its recommendations said.
The pattern of the riots is similar to that of Delhi and Sweden and therefore it is imperative for the state to investigate the incident holistically and not consider them to be isolated and local.
Funding received by individuals and religious extremist organisations should be continuously monitored by involving NIA, while potential areas that might face such communal tensions must be identified by the police in advance, it suggested.
Establishing a cyber dome to ensure social media is not used for hate mongering, strengthening of intelligence generation mechanisms, are among the other recommendations made by the committee. Additional inputs: PTI, ANI, News18, The Quint