Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, taking a serious view of the communal violence in parts of Bangalore, directed the police to deal sternly with anti-social elements and appealed to the people to maintain calm and peace.
Though Kumaraswamy was out of town, he directed the police to step up security and restore normalcy and appealed to the people not to pay heed to "mischievous rumours".
On Sunday night, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Basavaraj Horatti declared Monday a holiday for schools, both private and government, in the city's Bhartinagar and Shivajinagar areas, hit by communal violence, saying the step had been taken keeping in view the safety of children.
A 12-year-old boy was killed and over 22 others were injured when police opened fire on an angry mob which had gone on a rampage burning several vehicles, pelting stones and closing shops in the Shivaji Nagar area of Bangalore on Sunday. The condition of one of the injured was said to be critical.
Eight of those injured were police constables. The mob also stabbed a police constable, Thimmaiah, in the Shivaji Nagar area. The injured have been admitted to Bowring Hospital.
Night curfew has been imposed in the city from 2200 hrs (IST) on Sunday till 0700 hrs (IST) on Monday. After a day's lull since Friday's group clashes, violence broke out in many parts of the city on Sunday afternoon, with east and north-east Bangalore being the worst-hit.
"The situation is under control. The Bhartinagar area is divided on communal lines and anti-social elements are taking advantage of the situation. There are 40 batallions there so there is no failure on the part of the government. We have alerted the Centre and the Rapid Action Force (RAF) is on its way from Coimbatore and so is another batallion from Hyderabad. We will have a flag march tomorrow. All top Police officers are camping there tonight and the government is committed to maintaining law and order and communal harmony," Karnataka Home Minister M P Prakesh told CNN-IBN.
Trouble began on Sunday afternoon right next to the ongoing convention of the Virat Hindu Samaj Utsav. The mob went around burning buses and damaging other public and private properties and throwing stones at different targets. The mob set fire to as many as three buses in the Bamboo Bazaar area. Three autos were damaged near the Ulsoor lake.
The Bangalore Police chief said more than 300 people were arrested or detained on charges of rioting and prohibitory orders were clamped on all trouble-torn areas. The police claimed that the situation was under control. "It is now under control as the we lathicharged. We have clamped Section 144 and arrested many in connection with the clash," Commissioner of Police told CNN-IBN.
Around 400 police personnel have been deployed in Shivaji Nagar and Bharati Nagar, which officials said are tense but under control. A police two-wheeler and two shops were set on fire. Several private vehicles were also damaged in the incidents.
Stray incidents of violence have also been reported from other areas like Bangalore Contonement and Old Madras Road. The situation in other city localities like Kamaraj Road, Armstrong road, Sappers road, Commercial street, Shivchetty garden, Bamboo Bazar, Coles Park, Cock Burn street, Ulsoor lake, Assay Road, Gangadhara Chetty road, Old Madras Road and Indira Nagar also continue to be tense.
Mob violence had rocked the Shivaji Nagar and Bharati Nagar areas on Friday after clashes during a demonstration against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s execution. The violence left at least 20 persons injured. Police had to fire in the air to disperse a violent crowd prior to a massive rally by the Muslim community.
There were stone-throwing and group violence between the two groups in Bharti Nagar police limits. On Sunday, trouble broke out when a banner relating to 'Virat Hindu Samajotsav' was removed by a group of people on their way to attend the rally, which led to tension and stone-pelting, police said. An unspecified number of police personnel and civilians were injured in the incidents.
At a rally held at Shivajinagar stadium, leaders of political parties from the state, including Congress leaders CK Jaffar Sharief and former Chief Minister N Dharam Singh and SP leader S Bangarappa, attacked the US' Iraq policy. The protesters, who had gathered at the rally, burnt the portraits of US President George Bush and shouted slogans against him and the US.
The rally was held under the banner of 'People's Front'. Though the situation is under control in Bamboo Bazaar and the Contonement areas, Ulsoor remains tense.