As many as 167 people have been arrested and five First Information Reports (FIRs) registered in Aland town of Karnataka’s Kalaburagi district following communal tension over programmes scheduled for March 1 at a local shrine by Hindu and Muslim groups, the police have said.
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All the cases have been registered against Muslims for allegedly throwing stones and displaying weapons during attempts by both groups to gain access to the Ladle Mashak Dargah on Monday—despite the imposition of prohibitory orders from February 27 to March 3 in the region—the Aland police said.
The police said the tension was triggered after the Sree Rama Sene, the right-wing group, proposed the purification of the Raghava Chaitanya Shivalinga at the Ladle Mashak Dargah on March 1 to mark Maha Shivaratri and to “cleanse” a purported insult that occurred in November 2021. This was planned even as Muslims planned a procession to mark Shabab-e-Barat to pay respects to the dead at the shared dargah on the same day.
Anticipating trouble, the Kalaburagi district administration imposed prohibitory orders in Aland and restricted access to the dargah to all communities on Tuesday. Sree Rama Sena leader Pramod Muthalik and a few others, known to make inflammatory speeches, were barred from the district.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders including Union minister Bhagwanth Khuba and local BJP MLAs, took out a march to the dargah on Tuesday. Muslims also gathered near the dargah after hearing of the attempt by right-wing groups led by politicians to gain access to the dargah.
“The tensions occurred due to the insistence of some right-wing groups on holding a purification. We called for a peace meeting and it was agreed to allow small groups from both communities to access the dargah,” said Aland deputy superintendent of police Veeraya Hiremath. Although leaders agreed to the holding of a ritual the decision was not welcomed by all, officials said. “The vehicles of the IGP, the DC and many other police officials were stoned in the tension on Tuesday,” the DSP said.
Former Congress MLA from Aland B R Patil said on Wednesday that local authorities in Aland failed to enforce the prohibitory orders and allowed BJP leaders to take out a march causing tensions.
The police registered five cases of alleged preparation for violence by Muslims for collecting stones and weapons in anticipation of violence. “The Muslims were ready to react in case of violence. They had gathered weapons and displayed them in public. Cases were registered for stone-throwing and preparation for an attack as a result,” said an official.
Reports of the death of two people during the tension were denied by the Aland police. “There is some false propaganda happening around deaths that occurred due to natural causes,” DSP Hiremath said.