Turning the tables and blaming the BJP government for the riots in the city on Tuesday night, senior Congress leader G Parameshwara on Saturday said failure of state intelligence and police led to the violent mob attack on the party MLA's house and a police station.
"The riot on August 11 night in the city's eastern suburb is an absolute failure of the state intelligence and its police. Didn't the state government have the information that its police station would be attacked and burnt? It had no clue that people would gather after a derogatory post on social media was brewing trouble," Parameshwara told reporters here.
The former deputy chief minister in the JD-S-Congress coalition government (2018-19) is heading the party's fact-finding committee to ascertain reasons for the mob violence in which Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy's house and DJ Halli police station in the Pulakeshinagar assembly segment were burnt and scores of vehicles and public property were destroyed.
As the unruly mob went on a rampage, police resorted to firing to quell the violence and bring the situation under control. Three youth died in the violence. "As even innocent people, including boys were arrested after the riot, an atmosphere of fear has gripped the densely populated area," said Parameshwara.
The opposition party's 6-member committee visited the riot-hit area earlier in the day and met Murthy and the other affected people for a first-hand account of the violence, arson and mayhem that occurred on Tuesday night.
"We are yet to talk to many people to find out what actually happened that led to rioting and looting. We will submit a report on our findings to the party's state unit president D.K. Shivakumar, who appointed the probe panel," he said.
Noting that prima facie, the mob violence was triggered by a derogatory post on Facebook by the MLA's nephew, P Naveen on that day, Parameshwara took exception to some ministers blaming the Congress for the riot, as a fallout of a rift in the opposition party.
"On what basis they (ministers) are blaming our party and us? Why will we burn the house of our MLA? We are not saying action should not be taken against those involved in arson. We'll be the last one to protect them," Parameshwara said, seeking judicial probe by a sitting high court judge. "The ruling party (BJP) is talking about a Dalit MLA being attacked. If so, he should be given protection by the state government," Parameshwara said.
Meahwhile, Shivakumar refuted a charge by state home minister Basavaraj Bommai that rift within the opposition party had led to the riot.
"On what basis Bommai is saying it? If there is any rift, it is in the ruling BJP and not in our party as we are united," Shivakumar told reporters here. Accusing the BJP government for trying to cover-up its failure to prevent the riots, Shivakumar said police could have given protection to the MLA's house in its area after a complaint was filed against the accused for the derogatory post 3 hours before the riot occurred.
Asserting that the party was with its MLA Murthy, the party's state unit chief said strict action should be taken against the culprits behind the riot. In a related development, Janata Dal-Secular legislator Basavaraj Horatti urged the state government to ban the Socialist Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and Popular Front of India (PFI) for the alleged involvement of their members in the riot.
"There is nothing wrong in banning any organisation engaged in anti-social activities if its members are found guilty after the investigation," Horatti told reporters at Hubballi in the state's northwest region, about 400km from Bengaluru.
Blaming the state government for the riot in the city, the former legislative council chairman said the mob violence could have been averted had the police acted in advance as some of the ministers claimed it was pre-planned.
"Such violence has become a black-spot for the state. Political blame-game even during the Covid-19 situation and violence is unfortunate. Life-term should be given to the guilty after the investigation," said Horatti.