On October 1st, Shivamogga, Karnataka, experienced a disturbing episode of communal unrest when individuals participating in the Milad un-Nabi/Id-e-Milad procession resorted to stone-pelting, leaving several injured. Authorities imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in the Ragigudda area where the incident occurred to maintain order and prevent further unrest.
The mob also attacked/pelted stones at Hindu homes as well as women in Shivamogga.
What stands out in this incident is the display of a cutout of Tipu Sultan portraying him engaging in a violent act against two Hindus dressed in saffron attire. It was pretty evident that this cutout was put up deliberately to incite and provoke the Hindu community. Activists affiliated with Hindu organisations immediately raised concerns about the cutout, leading to police intervention.
Earlier in the day, the police had covered a section of the cutout owing to a “bit controversial (content),” which had caused discontent among members of a particular community, as said by a police spokesperson.
News reports revealed that members of the Hindu community took to the streets to express their outrage against the stone-pelting incident. The police intervened by halting the procession to restore order. In response to the police action, some participants in the procession attempted to breach police barricades and hurled stones, prompting the police to employ lathi charges to disperse the crowd.
To defuse the situation, Shivamogga’s Superintendent of Police, GK Mithun Kumar, engaged with local leaders from both communities, urging them to collaborate in restoring peace. Furthermore, organisers were instructed to shroud the controversial portrait with a curtain to prevent further escalation of tensions in the area. Nearly 40 people involved in the disturbance were arrested by the police.
The mob vandalised homes belonging to Hindus. In this video, a beleagured woman is saying,
“They vandalised our houses and attacked our men. Who will give us justice? Why are the Police not protecting us? Can’t Hindus live in Shivamogga? Should we leave Karnataka? Shouldn’t the police protect us? Will they only protect the Muslims? Should Hindus not be protected? See how they have vandalised our property, come and see. No one came and asked us, why?”
Images of the procession and the sword displayed have been circulating on social media. The photographs depicted a large sword inscribed with Urdu text and a picture of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, known for historical acts of violence against Hindus.
Two other images displayed large cutouts of Tipu Sultan and Islamic flags being waved in the city. The Congress government in Karnataka has been criticised for allegedly prioritising communal symbols over addressing pressing issues such as the Cauvery problem.
Yuva Brigade member and columnist Chakravarty Sulibele shared multiple videos documenting the incident. He wrote, “Here is thread of #Shimoga violence. It all started with a Tipu cut out in which he kills two saffron coloured people. Police understood the depth of the problem and painted them white. Muslims went on rage and women started protesting and blocking the roads of Honnali-shimoga. Later SP spoke to them and tried to clear the air. But when the procession started the true color came out. Later they say few pelted stones on the procession. Though not one video released of it yet some believe a distant possibility.
Somehow Muslims wanted to provoke Hindu community. Just look at the cutout they displayed in-front of Masjid yesterday. Which says Aurangjeb built Akhand Bharat samrajya!”
In one video, a woman could be heard expressing alarm at seeing individuals engaging in violence against the police. She says, “They are beating up the police.”
Another video captured individuals from the Islamic community celebrating with swords in their hands. The damage had already been done by the time Section 144 was imposed in the area.
Sulibele pointed out the peaceful nature of the recent Ganesh Visarjan procession carried out by the Hindu community, underscoring what he perceived as disparities in the government’s handling of events. He expressed concerns about preferential treatment and highlighted government actions that appeared to favour certain communities, raising questions about the state of affairs in Karnataka.
How the Congress members reacted
Despite an Islamist mob brandishing swords, waving flags and attacking the police personnel, the Karnataka Home Minister downplayed the severity of the attack by stating that stone-pelting on police is nothing new and is not a significant issue. This reminds us of the “Hua to hua” statement made by Sam Pitroda over the 1984 Sikh riots following former PM Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
The ISIS-Shivamogga connection
In September 2023, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) made a significant breakthrough by apprehending a key fugitive associated with the Islamic State (IS) upon his arrival at New Delhi Airport from Nairobi, Kenya.
Arafath Ali was swiftly taken into custody upon landing at the airport, marking a significant achievement for the NIA’s efforts to uncover and thwart the activities of foreign-based IS modules aiming to carry out acts of terrorism and violence within India.
Ali had been evading authorities since 2020, facing accusations of engaging in propaganda for ISIS and conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. During this time, he had been operating from abroad, actively promoting the anti-India terror agenda of the ISIS.
NIA investigations have revealed that Ali, originally from the Shivamogga district in Karnataka, played a pivotal role in identifying, radicalising, and recruiting susceptible Muslim youth into the ranks of the ISIS while operating from overseas.
In connection with the Shivamogga terror conspiracy case, one of the accused, Mohamed Shariq, had been en route to planting an improvised explosive device (IED) in a pressure cooker at the Kadri Manjunatha Temple in Mangaluru. Tragically, the IED exploded accidentally inside an auto-rickshaw. Ali had maintained close communication with other individuals involved in the case and had actively participated in the planning and execution of the conspiracy.
The NIA’s investigations further revealed Ali’s involvement in two graffiti incidents in Mangaluru in 2020. Acting on his directives, two other accused, identified as Mohamed Shariq and Maaz Muneer Ahmed, had inscribed messages on walls, including “DON’T FORCE US TO INVITE LASHKAR-E-TAIBA AND TALIBAN TO DEAL WITH SANGHIS AND MANVEDIS #LASHKAR ZINDABAD.”
The agency emphasised that its ongoing investigations continue to focus on Ali and other suspects connected to the case as they work to unravel the full extent of their activities and associations.