The violence rioters perpetrated upon the residents of DJ Halli and KG Halli Wards of Pulakeshi Nagara assembly constituency of the Bengaluru Urban District is a consequence of the cobweb of political masterplans failing by interventions. The game unfolded on the occasion of BBMP election on social media between Camp Zameer and Camp Rizwan backed by their respective political masters. Factions of Indian National Congress (INC)-JD(S) sparred against each other, ignoring party affiliations.
The Pulakeshi Nagara assembly constituency of Bengaluru city is a Scheduled Caste-Scheduled Tribe reserved assembly seat, which MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy of INC had won with a margin of 81,000 votes. It was the highest margin in the 2018 Karnataka assembly election. Second to him was DK Shivakumar in the Kanakpura assembly constituency, who had won with a margin of 79,000 votes. Today Shivakumar is the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president.
MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, imported into the INC from the JD(S) — along with BZ Zameer Ahmed, MLA of the Charmrajnagar constituency, Bengaluru — who was a minister in the government of former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in 2018. The story of JD(S) to INC migration from the chief minister to minister to MLA played out to the dismay of former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) who was at the losing end of the bargain.
The build-up to this violence was clearly a political chess game of the JD(S) and INC and also the inner-party dynamics of the latter. Zameer Ahmed aspires to be the tallest leader of Muslims in Bengaluru, for which he was made a minister. He is a close confidante of Siddaramaiah. It used to be Roshan Baig who held the old guard of the Muslim community in the INC. But he lost his popularity and power, thanks to a series of events and the infamous IMA scam he was allegedly involved in. His infamy benefited Zameer Ahmed.
While Zameer Ahmed was a representative from Bangalore South, Rizwan Arshad, the MLA from the Shivajinagar constituency, held the fortress of the northern part of the city. Arshad had begun his career with NSUI and Youth Congress to succeed Roshan Baig in his current position.
However, with the entry of MLA Murthy into the INC in 2018, the dominance of Zameer Ahmed became much more evident — to the chagrin of Arshad and camp. Arshad had contested the 2019 parliamentary election from Bangalore Central as the joint JD(S)-INC candidate and is said to have lost again due to sabotage.
BBMP corporation election was slated this 2020 but deferred due to the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19). Former mayor of BBMP Sampath Raj contested the 2018 assembly poll from the CV Raman Nagar constituency, which falls under the Bengaluru Central parliamentary constituency. He lost with a margin 12,227 votes.
At this juncture, it’s pertinent to observe that MLA Murthy was doubling down on his popularity and strengthening the grip over the constituency by pushing for corporator seats for five of his family members in Pulakeshi Nagara out of the seven available seats. This alarmed all other stakeholders including the neighbouring constituencies of Sarvagnanagar and its MLA KJ George. Zameer Ahmed reportedly meddled in the corporator level politics in this constituency as well in order to dominate and establish himself as the tallest leader of Muslims in Bengaluru and, thus, de facto for Karnataka too.
Now enters P Naveen, the nephew of MLA Murthy, who behaved and worked as one of the leaders in KG Halli area and vied for a seat in the BBMP election. Naveen had been pretty active on Facebook and also physical platforms, connecting with his workers and, in general, the constituency. He was providing clarity to the community members regarding COVID-19 guidelines. He believed he was truly a secular leader.
Facebook timeline of P Naveen leading to Bengaluru riot
- 1 August: P Naveen wishes members of the constituency on the occasion of Bakra-Eid.
- 2 August: Shares the pictures of Varamahalakshmi Vrata at his home and wishes everyone the same.
- 3 August: Wishes the members in his list on Raksha Bandhan
- 4 August: Requests all his friends to Light Diya in the evening on the occasion of Ram Mandir Shilanyas and also updates a sticker on his profile picture of Shri Ram.
- 5 August: Makes a post that triggers the many members in his list to ask about his secular credentials. The post reads: “2020 was worst untill (sic) today 5th August, it has given me life time (sic) of happiness. Jai Shri Ram”. Prior to this post, there were other updates related to the Ram Mandir, which were only celebratory in nature, not demeaning any community.
Reactions to Naveen’s ‘Jai Sri Ram’
- “Thanks for showing you are real secular faces brother and I hope we the people of pulikeshinagar choose our secular leader in upcoming elections” & “I guarantee u brother because of u r secular posts in upcoming elections u and ur mama will be more happy ? get ready bro” by Azaan Saydee, profile created to conceal identity.
- Reply by P Naveen: ” You Talk About Secularism ; And Not Happy For Hindus What Kind Of Secular You Are ??? ; Shares a Picture of Kashi Gynawapi Site which clearly shows a Masjid attached to temple premises “.
- Finally, the other person ends with the following comment: “Anyways thanks alot for a showing u r true colours and also thanks for giving a chance to work for new upcoming MLA”.
- Syed Shah writes: “Thanks for showing u r real secular faces brother and I hope we the people of pulikeshinagar choose our secular leader in upcoming elections next time coconut”.
- Syed Risalath Jah Taffu writes: ” I think u should read the history once again . Wash ur brain its filled with cowdung . Thinks twice before u write anything to even give an in example on Prophet.” Its pertinent to note that Syed Taffu held the position of Secretary to Congress Bangalore North District Committe & confidant of Rizwan Arshad. Both P Naveen & Syed Taffu discuss over the matter with multiple barbs.
- On another comment Syed Taffu writes: ” Ru with RSS Ideology ? ” ; ” Ur some were Damaging ur Brothers Image n his future. With this kinds of provoking messages & encouraging RSS Ideology” ;
- In response, P Naveen concludes by writing – ” Are You A Secular Person If Yes Feel Happy For 1 Billion Hindus, I Don’t Know How Worshiping Our Religion And Culture Our God Will Damage Anyone’s Image ?? I M Not Insulting Anyone’s Religion And Culture In Any Of My Posts..” ; ” You Are A Secular Person Right Post Ram Mandir Pic Congratulating Billion Hindus Let’s See”.
- 6 August: Naveen writes ” Ram Mandir was demolished from Invader Babar & now the Truth has prevailed”
- 7 August: MLA Murthy’s nephew writes, “Few people from the constituency doubting my Secular Credentials for celebrating Ram Mandir, the fact is if you people were truly secular you would have joined us & celebrated with us”.
Language too bad to be edited
The comment on Prophet Mohammed by P Naveen in response to a derogatory post on Hindu gods gave a ripe opportunity for the political vultures to cash in on an emotional issue.
The original post and the content thereof are still a mystery. What was Naveen retaliating against? The facts no longer in the public domain, yet that was provocative enough for a wannabe politician to lose his cool, indicates a trap laid by saboteurs. Additionally, there must have been elements to milch the issue and shift public attention from an internal feud in the INC to a communal conflagration.
Abdul Wajid Pasha of the JD(S) and Mufti PM Muzzamil, along with the SDPI’s Muzzamil Pasha, arrived at the DJ Halli Police Station to lodge an FIR against P Naveen. Thereafter, these politicians scattered and mingled into the crowd. The crowd began shouting slogans of Nara-e-Takbeer Allah u Akbar and vile slogans towards directed at the police. A further flare-up led to rioting and rampage, which could not be controlled until the police were permitted to defend themselves by firing at the mob, leading to the death of three rioters.
Clearly, that the tussle to become the tallest leader of Muslims led to heartburn to consequent riot is now established. Three deaths from the community, with 10 FIRs and more than 100 arrests due to the violent rampage, which was meticulously orchestrated by bringing together miscreants and their weapons from different parts of Bengaluru — leave nothing to doubt.
The big names among those arrested include
- SDPI leader Muzzamil Pasha for criminal conspiracy
- INC Sampanginagar corporator Irshad Begum’s husband Kaleem Pasha who also happens to be a close aide of former minister KJ George
The former mayor of BBMP and candidate in CV Raman Nagara as well as close aide of Rizwan Arshad, Sampath Raj was introduced into the picture, completing the cobweb.
It is evident that the violence was pre-planned. The Baig-Arshad camp laid the clever trap. P Naveen took the bait. However, such risks are disproportionate just to control the BZ Zameer Ahmed camp. If the Zameer camp held a trump card against its rival, the riot that the Baig-Arshad duo unleashed deprived Zameer of the advantage.
The JD(S) benefits from the dislodging of public support for Murthy. Now Kumaraswamy’s party may field its candidates for the BBMP elections. This, in turn, will affect the next assembly election. Meanwhile, the dominance of Baig-Arshad remains intact in North Bangalore.
As of now, the race to become the tallest Muslim leader in Bengaluru has come to a screeching halt due to this debacle of the Zameer Ahmed camp. What remains to be seen is the outcome of the investigation and whether the BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government bans the SDPI. This outfit was earlier known to plot MP Tejasvi Surya’s assassination during the anti-CAA protest. But if banned, the SDPI will not remain a Muslim vote cutter in Bengaluru, which would be disadvantageous for the BJP.
The writer is a political observer and commentator who did not wish to be named