Communalism in Karnataka
This is an effort towards creating a comprehensive database on the communal incidents that have rocked Karnataka. Since most of the information contained here is drawn entirely from fact finding reports and related sources, it is important that this analysis is supplemented with perspectives (conceptual and historical) and analysis of causal factors that led to each communal incident
This is an effort towards creating a comprehensive database on the communal incidents that have rocked Karnataka. Since most of the information contained here is drawn entirely from fact finding reports and related sources, it is important that this analysis is supplemented with perspectives (conceptual and historical) and analysis of causal factors that led to each communal incident.
We have consciously tried to be descriptive in our analysis in order to build a basic narrative which avoids hasty generalizations and theorizations based on insufficient evidence. Hence it is important that you bring in this level of deeper analysis and additional inputs from personal knowledge.
To this end, we are sending you the following documents detailing the history of communal riots in Karnataka:
Chronology of various riots
Brief analysis of each riot, drawing an understanding of the riot in terms of its causes, impacts and issues. The perspective for this analysis is limited to the reports on hand and needs to be deepened.
What we hope you could do is:
a.) Give us your feedback on this information, filling in the gaps and making necessary modifications. For instance, in the Chronology we have definitely missed out several communal incidents which you may have information about, that could be fed into the table. You may also be able to furnish us with many of the details we may have missed with regard to the incidents that we have covered. Further still, it is possible that our understanding/perspective may be defective and needs further refinement.
b.) It would be wonderful if you could get in touch with other concerned people/groups in your area who would also be able to offer additional information/understanding etc. This could lead to the formation of a loose support group in your area which would work towards finalizing this report and disseminating it. More generally, such a group could monitor the communal situation in the area and think of strategies of intervention in concert with similar groups elsewhere. We would be glad to visit your area to explain how this project would be useful in combating communalism.
c.) It would be good if similar groups are established in other areas which can network with each other, share information, collectively work out strategies and respond to crisis situations in different areas.
d.) With each of these groups contributing to the report, we hope that a comprehensive documentation of communalism in Karnataka will emerge. The purpose of this kind of documentation would be to make it available throughout Karnataka for dissemination and work out strategies of intervention and response.
e.) We would like to build up this report into a resource base on communalism that would be freely available. We also intend to put this up on a commonly-owned web site that would put into immediate circulation news of communal developments across the State. This could very well lead to the creation of a newsletter in English and Kannada that could provide updates, analysis, reports, etc.
f.) Parallel to this process would be the holding of a series of public hearings in places which have experienced communal riots. These hearings would be part of a campaign to put pressure on the local/State administration on issues of prosecuting the perpetrators, undertaking rehabilitation/compensation of the affected people and future preventive measures. This campaign would also mobilize civil society.
Please let us know how you can contribute to this effort.��
Alternative Law Forum
Communalism and Communal Incidents in Karnataka
Overview of incidents in Karnataka
COMMUNALISM AND COMMUNAL INCIDENTS IN KARNATAKA
Since the information contained in this analysis is entirely drawn from fact finding reports and related sources, it is important that this analysis is supplemented with perspectives (conceptual and historical) and analysis of causal factors that led to each communal incident.
We have consciously tried to be descriptive in our analysis in order to build a basic narrative which avoids hasty generalizations and theorizations based on insufficient evidence. Hence it is important that you bring in this level of deeper analysis and additional inputs from personal knowledge.
The genocide in Gujarat and the continuing malfunctioning of the state government, judiciary, police and the bureaucracy vindicated by the recent pronouncements of the Supreme Court in the Best Bakery and other cases, does not augur well for the secular fabric of this nation. However, Gujarat cannot and must not become the only focal point since the manifestations of fascist Hindutva are spread throughout the country and is evidenced in various processes of saffronisation of common people, regional political parties, education, bureaucrats, police, and military among others as well, in almost all states. In fact the activities of the Sangh Parivar has been hectic to as the least in southern states especially Karnataka. Moreover, what happened in Gujarat was not a knee jerk spontaneous reaction as the Sangh Parivar makes it out be, but an implementation of reasoned, well planned strategy on a ground that was continuously being prepared for it. It is in this light, therefore, that one must understand the threat of the fascist forces that “Karnataka will be the Gujarat of the South”.
What does this mean and what are the processes that are being mirrored in Karnataka?
In such a scenario we have set about the task of analyzing the growth of communalism in Karnataka, specifically concentrating on its manifestations as, what has been described variously as communal riots, flare-ups and tensions. We believe that this is an important task as this would give us an insight into the method behind the spread of communalism, probably then offering fresh leads on how to counter the same, and perhaps be of help to those committed to fight communalism and its forces.
We are also aware that the task that is cut out requires the concerted efforts of not one individual or organization but as many as possible, especially since the scale is of the size of Karnataka. In this exercise we have tried to come up with our understanding of what incidents communicate a communal sound, and, further, the various forms that a communal incident may play itself out as.
We have assembled details of numerous communal incidents culled from various press reports and fact-finding reports. To this end we have been able to find mention of various such incidents in Karnataka beginning from 1929.
We have tried to differentiate between the various communal incidents on the basis of the violence intensity, spread of influence area, communal historicity, and reason for incident among other factors. On this basis we have found it useful to anatomize a communal conflict in terms of three stages of its build-up.
Stage 1 being an initial process of communalization,
Stage 2 being the eruption of a communal incident on a limited scale (to test the waters as it were), and,
Stage 3 being the organization of a full-fledged communal riot
These processes obviously overlap but these categorization help us to understand that the communal incident is not a spontaneous reaction but is a manifestation of an organized campaign.
Process of communalization
Communal tension basically indicates towards the gradual communalization of a particular area and represents an under-the-surface tension.
An isolated manifestation of this tension in the form of a communal incident of lesser (not necessarily though) intensity of violence which does not have any spin-off into other areas is what we call communal flare-up. The area itself slips back into a communal tense one after the flare-up.
A communal riot represents the most intense manifestation of growing communal tension and indicates to further possibility of similar incidents of same or greater intensity and capacity to spill over into other, including surrounding areas. A communal riot results, more so than the above two stages, in extreme violence such as killings and destruction of property.
Overt causes of various communal incidents:
As pointed above we have relied entirely on press reports and fact-finding reports and have stuck to the language, analysis and logic contained in them. On this basis we find that that reasons for a particular village, town or city to have potential for communal conflicts could be broadly understood under the following heads.
1. Disputed spaces
What we found is that there are some spiritual spaces around which controversies have been built. While some of them attain regional, if not national, significance others have local effect only.
Baba Budhangiri, Chikamangalur
Idgah Maidan, Bangalore
Idgah Maidan, Hubli
Others instances where communal incidents revolved around religious spaces
On June 21st, 1993, in Bidar, six men were injured in a clash between two communities, when people of one community began worshipping at a place on which the other community had some claims. When members of the other community asked the worshippers of the other community to vacate the place, clashes broke out.
1. Sensitive cities/towns/villages/areas
There are several cities/towns and villages and areas within cities itself that have been prone to communal incidents regularly. These include Kolar, Hubli, Suratkal, Bhatkal and Bangalore among others.
Further, there are sensitive areas within towns and cities that are prone to communal incidents. For example in Bangalore, areas like Tannery road, Adugodi, DJ Halli, Shivajinagar, Mysore road and Kalasipalyam.
Each of these must have the list of riots and the areas in each where riots are regular. For instance if you click on Bangalore a page with the lists of various riots in Bangalore and the specific areas where they took place must be displayed.)
2. Critical events
Laying of Foundation stone at Ayodhya in 1989 related incidents
On November 10 1989, there were communal clashes in Shimoga, Arsikere and Dharwad and later in Hubli following processions, especially the bursting of crackers at the time of the day when large number of Muslims had gathered for prayers, taken out by the VHP to mark the laying of the foundation-stone for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Rama Jyothi processions in 1990
Babri Masjid demolition related incidents in 1992
3. Idol desecration / defiling places of worship
The desecration of temples and idols and the defiling of worship places by throwing pieces of meat/pig within is another act that is regularly encountered, be it to trigger off a riot or to communalize the region.
Various such incidents include:
Vokkaleri village (near Kolar) in 1987
Dharwad in 1992
Bidar in 1992
Alland town, a taluk near Gulbarga in 1993
Mulbagal near Kolar in 1996
Chikamagalur and other surrounding areas in 2000
Bangalore in 2000
Kambripet in Hubli in 2001
4. Eve teasing
Eve teasing has also been seen to be one of the convenient reasons for communal incidents.
Various such incidents include:
5. Religion-related practices
Festivals have often instigated communal riots, usually at areas which are sensitive to riots. The preparations leading up to festivals or the festival time plays at least two important roles: one in communalizing the region and second being the occasion when riots occur.
Build-up to festival as time to communalize
Look at Kolar for instance where from 1984 the RSS/BJP decided to have a Public Ganesha Celebration Committee and with the cooperation of the JP MLA KR Srinivasiah, an administrative order was obtained from Deputy Commissioner (Shivananda) that no donations were to be collected from the public for Ganesh festival. But this public committee was authorized to do so. The idea was to cancel Mohalla-wise Ganesh Celebrations and pool-up resources to have a cultural event on a grand scale, thereby creating a monopoly over festival organizing. In effect the Sarvajanika Ganesh Samiti collected huge funds and crated all around itself dependent individuals to earn money. Starting from printing pamphlets, lottery tickets, procuring flowers, preparing dais, decoration, loud speakers, etc., the contract was given only to the Hindu and RSS sympathizers. This activity threw up a few vested interests that depended on this annual event to earn money. The Sarvajanika Ganesh Samiti had more than 1 lakh as its fixed funds. Thus, the paid teachers, hostel students, and benefactors of annual Ganesh festivities, automatically became loyal volunteers of RSS.
Festival occasion as moment for riot
The festival time itself has in many cases provided an area for communal riots to take place. Being a time when passions are at its peak, it becomes easy for people to make use of this to move these passions into communal areas.
In Kolar in 1990, (1.10.1990) the organizers of Id-Milad had decided to overdo the decorations in the streets. This was noticed by RSS activists and a quarrel began near Venkataramana Swamy temple. Some one stole a serial light set. The first skirmish started by 10 p.m. The Police intervened and dispersed the mob. But the Muslim youth pelted stones on buses and a maruthi car with a pregnant woman inside was badly hit. Soon the propaganda work began by RSS/VHP evident that they were waiting for this opportunity. They campaigned in the night door to door, organized a meeting the next day where they tried to ferment trouble by deciding to resist any efforts by the Muslims to take out the Id procession. The police entered the meeting and tried to pacify the people convincing them to not prevent the Id procession. When this was agreed to, and it was clear that RSS/VHP had failed in their plan, later in the day, an innocent boy was stabbed by RSS activists near Venugopal Swamy temple. This lead to the police imposing curfew immediately. Meanwhile, the stoning of the maruthi car the previous night was blown out of proportion and rumours that the pregnant woman was hit and the womb ripped open were spread. The activists thus instigated the rural folk against Muslims resulting in the riots of 1990 and curfew for 78 days.
… for more see Festival occasion as moment for riot
b.) Creation of new ritual practices
Eg. Datta Peta
c.) Religious processions
An altercation between members of two communities triggered off communal tension in Adugodi (Bangalore) in February 2003, when a procession of Goddess Annamma Devi passed through a masjid in the area.
d.) Religious flags
Just before the 1986 Mysore riots, in many of the troubled areas in Mysore, thousands of saffron flags of the VHP had gone up on housetops, auto rickshaws and at street corners on the occasion of the upcoming Sankranthi festival. This was seen as provoking the Muslims though the VHP deny any such intention.
In Venkateshpura (Bangalore) in July 1998, communal violence was triggered off by a dispute over the hoisting of a green flag on the occasion of Id-Milad, resulting in injuries to 25 people including policemen. This lead to communal tension in various areas of Bangalore including KG halli, Lingarajpuram, Kammanahalli road, Kacharkanahalli, , DJ Halli and Tannery road.
6. Appropriating nationalism and patriotism markers
Markers such as singing of Vande Mataram and the hoisting of the national flag have often been turned into a communal dispute.
a.) Flag Hoisting
The Idgah Maidan controversy at Hubli mainly revolves around a flag hoisting ceremony which the BJP wanted to conduct (as mentioned under disputed space: Idgah Maidan). The place, already being a place of dispute, proved to be the ideal place for the BJP to politicize the matter and exploit the communal potential of the dispute. By insisting on hoisting the national flag on a land which was already in dispute, they tried to evoke feelings of nationalism against the Anjuman-e-Islam. From 1992, the BJP tried to hoist the lag on Independence Day and Republic Day, causing violence, in different variances each year. Eventually, this dispute partially resolved when the Anjuman itself hoisted the flag at the Idgah Maidan in 1995. However, the recent Uma Bharati episode has again exposed the communal use of the ‘tiranga’.
a.) News paper articles
In December 1986, Mysore witnessed its first communal riot which lasted for 1 week. This riot was seen as an extension of the Bangalore riots over the short story in the Deccan Herald titled “Mohammed the Idiot”. More than 200 vehicles, mostly two –wheelers, were burned down, more than 200 shops were either looted or set on fire and more than 400 homes were looted, damaged or burned causing property loss of Rs. 88 lakhs. There were more than 800 arrests made in the riots that left 4 dead and 250, including 75 policemen, injured.
b.) Links with the mafia
The gang’s fury in the group clashes at Kurtakoti and Antur-Bentur villages in Dharwad, in May 1997 was said to have been heightened by an alleged mafia type operation by a gang of youths which extorted money from the people and molested women. The men who were killed by the angry mob were said to have links with this gang and the villagers had been trying to break this nexus for a long time now.
Elections are an important occasion through which the process of communalism is furthered. There are several issues here that need to be looked at beginning with the fielding of candidates.
a.) Vote banks, Congress and communalization
During assembly elections in 1978 Bhatkal witnessed its first communal riot in which 18 shops were looted. Again in 1991 communal riots broke out when a political party used a mosque loud-speaker for an election speech. The police resorted to firing claiming 2 students.
In the 10th November 1989 riots in Shimoga, Arsikere and Dharwad, though the riot was supposedly due to processions, especially the bursting of crackers at the time of the day when large number of Muslims had gathered for prayers, taken out by the VHP to mark the laying of the foundation-stone for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, however the clash was actually a consequence of the elections with each party blaming the other for the trouble and having different versions for what sparked of the riots. The Janatha Dal Chief was of the opinion that trouble was sparked off after ‘some students through firecrackers by mistake into the mosque’. The BJP district President gave the version that ‘some boys had burst crackers in front of the temple that just happened to be on the other side of the street from the mosque’. The sitting Congress MLA insisted that none of this was material as ‘it is only a very temporary aberration and will subside in a day or two’.
At least till prior to the 1990 Kolar riots, the Congress only fielded Muslim candidates as a way of securing a stable vote bank. In the 1983 elections the Congress Muslim candidate made his Muslim identity as the base while the BJP/JP made it clear that not another Muslim candidate must be elected from Kolar. With the victory of the JP Hindu candidate, backed by the BJP, the RSS/BJP activists got credibility. In fact after the latter’s victory again in 1985, Kolar witnessed the first Hindu Samojotsava organized by the RSS/BJP and actively supported, financially and otherwise, by the JP.
Election time has emerged as a ripe period for communal incidents of varying degrees.
The recent 2004 elections to the parliament and assembly in Karnataka had its share of communal incidents. In Sridharnagar in Sagar, in poll related communal violence, a gang of around 30-40 men barged into residents into homes in the dead of the night and issued threats to them. They pelted stones at Muslim homes in the area. The men were looking for liquor and money that would have apparently been used in campaigning.
b.)Preoccupation of officials with elections
It has been seen that in the 1986 Mysore riots the official machinery had been too preoccupied with the Zilla Parishad elections to attend to the settlement of compensation claims.
9. Spread of Hindutva
The manner in which Hindutva spreads is in itself a rather curious phenomenon that needs to be closely analyzed.
Before the Hindu–Sikh riots that took place in Bidar September 1988, an important recent development there has been the growth of majority communal ideology. Although not reflected in electoral terms, there has been the propagation of communal attitudes and prejudices by several groups such as the BJP, the RSS and the VHP. Many of those linked to these groups are also connected to the large number of educational societies there and use such connections to propagate their ideologies.
For instance, in Dharwad, Hindu youths had been trained under an RSS/VHP outfit, by a ‘Seth’ living there, about 8 months before the demolition of the Babri Masjid. After these demolitions, there were rumours about an alleged stoning of a temple. (An inspection of the temple did not show any damage due to the alleged stoning). By this time, a mob of around 200 persons gathered in front of the temple, intent upon attacking Muslims and their property. It was the young Hindus who had been trained by the RSS/VHP who along with some other ‘anti social elements’ from the neighboring villages swelled the ranks of the mob that ravaged Uppinabettigeri, Dharwad after such rumours had spread. The Muslims of the village maintain that except for these youths, who have been communalized by the RSS, the Hindus of the village harbour no ill feelings towards the Muslims of the village. Likewise the Hindu on 12/12/92 reported that the RSS and its sympathizers had gone on a stabbing spree in the town of Bidar.
a.) Hero worship of RSS Ideologues
The December 1998 riots in Kolar were a result of the RSS celebrations of the birth centenary of late Hedigewar, founder of RSS.
For more details see…
The Communal violence of December 1988
How it Happened?
In Hubli, in 2001, during the birthday celebrations of the VHP President Ashok Singhal, many of the speeches made had anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan references, with a lot of RSS/VHP supporters shouting out anti-Muslim slogans. This played a role in both, exciting the supporters as well as putting the Muslims themselves on guard, giving rise to communal tensions.
For more details see…
“Police firing during VHP Chief’s birthday celebrations” – Report by SICREM and PUCL (K)
b.) Linguistic chauvinism
A look into the gradual build-up to the riots periodically experienced in Kolar clearly demonstrates how the first seeds of separation were sown as language chauvinism developed in the region. The language chauvinism which developed in Karnataka from 1967 initiated the Kannada sanghas whose activities were confined to decorating the cinema stars and cinema houses when Kannada (Rajkumar) films were released in the town. Rajyotsava celebrations got a start in 1970. The language, Kannada was referred by zealots as Kannada Mother – Kannada Mathe. The Mother symbol is highly reverential and Mother Kannada was deified as Bhuvaneswari though in turn it was akin to every other female deity. Hence all the deities were assembled in a long queue and a procession was taken out in the streets of Kolar. Thus, Rajyotsava really was a procession of all the deities available in and around Kolar town. Only the slogans gave the indication of Kannada (like Kannada baalleli, sirigannadom gelli). Later, like most of these Sanghas, this too came to be controlled by the RSS. By 1985 the RSS was able to organize a Hindu consolidation day – Hindu Samajotsava on the lines of Rajyotsava celebrations where all the deities in Kolar are assembled in a place and a procession is taken out in the streets. Inciting slogans like “Bharatiyaru Hindugalu”, “Namma Desha Hindu Desha”, “Namma Rakta Hindu Rakta” and “Navalla Vondu Hindu” were shouted. This procession created a genuine fear among the other minorities. From this celebration a clear signal was delivered to minorities that the majority community was communalized.
One thing that has emerged is that the communal organizations, be it the RSS or VHP, have kept up the tempo of religious / communal fervor through various activities of theirs especially moving into temple committees or even renovating or building new temples, especially near mosques and dargahs.
This is clearly seen in Kolar where RSS made it a point to establish a Hindu temple nearby almost every existing Muslim religious tomb. As such the Jalakanteswara Temple which stood ruined for 400 years near Antaraganga Hills in the vicinity of the Jalal Sha Wali’s (Sufi saint) tomb was renovated. Overnight, a Shakti Ganapathi Temple stood up in front of Pallavi Theatre near the tombs of Hazrath Musthan Sha Qaadin Mutan and two others.
d.) Setting up of institutions
Another important process of sustaining communal tensions has been through the indoctrination of youth and children.
In Kolar, the RSS/BJP infiltrated the then defunct Brahman Sangha, collected funds and got a municipal site registered in its name after which further financial contributions were invited for the construction of a hostel and auditorium, which was completed in 1982. At the same time the RSS also started a primary school called Chinmaya Vidyalaya which now runs schools up to High School.
e.) Committed activists
Another important requirement for the entrenchment of Hindutva in societies has been the emergence of local level committed activists of the communal forces.
Kolar has such a local here too, one J Parthasarathy, who made his bones by getting arrested along with other RSS activists during Emergency. Even as the RSS infiltrated the existing organizations, it was his personal financial contributions that ensured acquisition of a municipal site in the name of Brahman Sangha. By this time he had become the backroom coordinator of most RSS activities including founding the Sarvajanika Ganesh Samiti and Chinmaya Vidyalaya as well. In fact he even started a weekly “Jana Bimba” (now defunct). But J Parthasarathy has got journalist accreditation and free bus passes and invitations to Government functions etc. through this.
10. Government policy spurred riots (such as anti-Urdu riots, anti-Mandal, etc.)
a.) Government Acquisition
Among other reasons behind the 1986 Mysore riots, one important one was the ill-feeling between Muslim and Hindu communities over acquisition for the Devaraj Urs road built few years before the riots. The Hindus were sore that two mausoleums were not removed by the authorities though a couple of temples were raised to the ground. The Muslims had a grouse that they were discriminated against when unauthorized structures were demolished.
11. Settling Private Scores
One of the main reasons leading up to the 1986 Mysore riots in Gandhinagar slum was the property dynamics in the affected areas. However, in some areas local grudges also to have surfaced to the detriment of communities.
Two issues can be looked at here:
1. Using the communal riots to settle private scores,
2. Private scores culminating into communal riots.
a.) Using communal riots to settle private scores
Opportunity was taken of communal riots to settle private scores, as this was found to be a convenient way by some people.
This was particularly seen in Dharwad. The CFD-K/PUCL-K team which prepared a report at Dharwad of the communal riots that took place in 1992, was of the view that many of the assaults that took place were in the nature of settling private scores, and were not strictly communal. They felt that the stabbing of Arvind B Kalavadi, aged 22 was the outcome of private vendetta and had little to do with the riots
b.) Private scores culminating into communal riots
Many times, disputes which start of as personal rows have been turned into a communal riot of a rather gruesome nature.
In Belgaum, in April 1992, a private money dispute leading to the stabbing of a youth, sparked of riots, as people belonging to the victim’s community started indiscriminately attacking and stabbing those belonging to the other community, causing a retaliatory response. The situation worsened with the explosion of a bomb at a house, situated in an area, mainly inhabited by the minority community. It is unclear whether the bomb was thrown into the house, or if it went of while being stored inside. Three persons were killed and about 12 injured, showing the seriousness of the situation caused by a private row.
For more see…Private scores culminating into communal riots
Build-up to riots – both historical and immediate
There are places in Karnataka which have a long history of feuds and problems, both communally and otherwise, which have been exploited by political parties in order to satisfy their needs. For instance, Hubli has a history of feuds between the Sahasrarjun Kshatriyan Samaj (Pattegars) and the Muslims. The former are accused of engaging themselves in illicit distillation and smuggling. This traditional rivalry has been exploited by the BJP for its own political gain. The Idgah Maidan has also been a continuing cause for communal riots in the past. From 1992, it has been an issue of dispute, which has led to an increased number of riots in the city. (mentioned above in disputed spaces).
Some of the riots that took place were seen as a pre-meditated conspiracy, and not just a sudden turn of events leading to the break out of riots. Dharwad, for instance, where there was an RSS/VHP outfit training young men, the riots that took place after the Babri Masjid demolition was seen to be a conspiracy. The village had known complete harmony till the RSS/VHP outfit started in the village. According to the Muslims, the spark which is said to have instigated the riots, the alleged stoning of the temple had been decided earlier. (A week before the attack on the temple, a Muslim businessman had learnt from his Hindu servant about a rumour floating around among Hindus about the attack on the temple, and the servant was told not to go to his master’s house)
The build-up to the riots caused in 2001 in Hubli after the birthday celebrations of the VHP Chief, Ashok Singhal is notable here. Hubli has been a riots-prone town from 1972 concerning the Idgah Maidan in particular. In these circumstances, Ashok Singhal’s decision to celebrate his birthday in Hubli was bound to cause disturbances. Davangere district authorities denied the permission to celebrate his birthday there. From September 12th onwards, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal Cadres started protesting against Muslim and other communities. On 1st September, while the Ganesh festival procession was passing through the Idgah, there was an attack on the Idgah. On the night of September 14th, the Bajrang Dal people publicly set fire to the Bible and the Quran. The same evening, at the Railway platform, they removed the Parda of a Muslim girl and forcefully put Kumkum on her forehead. The actual birthday celebrations on 15th September brought in a confluence of communal events. The rally which was taken out, passed through the Idgah Maidan and proceeded towards the Nehru Stadium. The speeches of the people involved in the celebration contained anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim slogans. It was even said that if Muslims wanted to stay safe in India, they should wear a tika on their forehead. There was also a report that the Hindutva forces were making plans for burning the special bus for Muslim women. A series of riots and violence took place in the following days.
For more see…Build-up immediate instances
Power struggle between two communities
In the 1993 riots in Bhatkal, for atleast 2 months prior to the 9 months long communal simmering from April, there was a power struggle between the leaders of the two communities, who seemed determined to prove that the town was controlled by their own community. This conflict disturbed the town which until now prided itself on its history of communal harmony.
It has been stated time and again that the real reason behind the 1993 riots in Bhatkal were the ISI.
One of the main reasons leading up to the 1986 Mysore riots were the property dynamics in the affected areas. In Gandhinagar, there had been a running war between tenants (Muslims) and landlords (Hindu) with many landlords waiting for an opportunity to ease out their tenants either for non-payment of rents or the refusal to pay higher rents. In some areas local grudges also to have surfaced to the detriment of communities.
Role of political parties and their performance in the areas known to be “sensitive”
Role of political parties and their performance in the areas that is “sensitive”.
The political parties have played an important role in both instigating existing communal tension causing large scale riots, and allowing internal party rivalries to cause riots.
Using existing communal feelings
In many situations, parties have used the animosity that already exists between two communities, instigating one against the other, for their own benefit.
In Hubli where there is long history of feuds between the Pategar community and the Muslims, the BJP has tried to use this traditional rivalry for its own political gain. Again, in Hubli, the BJP tried to use the Idgah Maidan controversy for its own gain, by sidelining the Muslims to win over the Hindus so as to keep the issue of ‘the other’ burning. Efforts were first made to dispute its ownership and secondly to test the patriotism of the Muslims by centering the issue around the hoisting of the national flag. They tried to bring themselves up as protecting the ‘honour of the flag’ and showing the Anjuman-e-Islam as an unpatriotic group. After the Anjuman themselves hoisted the flag in 1995, the BJP tried to again use this to show that their point had been proven and said that this had just vindicated their fight to hoist the flag.
There have also been situations where political parties allow rivalry, both within the party and between parties to culminate into communal riots.
In Belgaum, the riots that took place in April 1992 (see under: settling private scores), it is argued that the internal opposition within the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) ranks which resulted in a Kannadiga being elected as a Mayor of Belgaum for the first time in 1991 may have been a contributory factor to the riots, with rival factions trying to settle scores. It was also noticed that there was a marked increase in tension, after the 1991 Lok Sabha elections, when the BJP lost the election from the Belgaum Parliamentary Constituency, but was able to gather sizable support from the Belgaum Town segment.
The group clashes that occurred in May 1997, in Kurtakoti and Antur-Bentur villages in Dharwad, where at least three men were axed to death was mainly a result of a long-standing rivalry between two communities, owing allegiance to different political parties-the group led by the slain men belonged to the Janata Dal and the other, a dominant community of the village, to the Congress. The hatred they had nursed exploded in the ugliest form after the elections to the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees in which Congress-backed candidate won despite Dal’s majority in the local gram panchayat. The immediate provocation was the alleged insult hurled at a 75 year old Congress worker, Mahantappa Byahatti, by 3 Dal workers. A group of men wielding sickles, axes and other weapons headed where the leader of a rival gang waited, dragging them to the middle of the street, and chopping the limbs of 3 men. The mob then ransacked the victims houses and set them on fire. The supporters of the deceased arrived on the scene and both the gangs fought pitched battles leaving many seriously injured.
Visits of politicians
During the 1993 riots in Bhatkal, after the first bout of violence settled down, the CM’s visit and his spending time in Yahya’s (the then Higher Education minister and accussed of having in a role in the riots) house, resulted in renewed violence.
In the 1988 Kolar riots, one mandal member who belongs to a major political party had openly admitted that after hearing the news of attack on Hindus by Muslims, he had gathered 500 people and moved towards the Durga on 12th December night. But the police successfully prevented and sent them back. It is evident there that most of the political parties maintain a sort of soft corner approach towards culprits belonging to majority community. They have no hesitation to hobnob with communal organisatlons like RSS. Hence, most of them will not antagonise these elements with the dubious intention.
Differences between two prominent Ministers, S. Yahya and R.N. Naik, and inter party rivalry between the Congress and BJP were the main reasons for the long riots that took place in Bhatkal in 1993.
Role of rumours
The judicious use of rumours to precipitate a riot in an already communally charged atmosphere besides spreading and sustaining the riot is seen in almost all riot situations.
In the 1988 Kolar riots, violence broke out during a procession taken out by the RSS. This spread to other parts of Hubli and nearby villages as rumours started spreading. Out at the four versions floated around, most of them opined for the cracker incidence version was the cause of the riot. But everyone agreed that only after the announcement by the RSS leaders, the rioting had started. There rumours that were floated around:
(I) Some people had spread a rumour that a lorry driver, who was bringing the participants from a nearby village in his lorry, was attacked. This news was given a big announcement and caused rioting
(II) A rumour had spread that two bike riders who were piloting the procession were kidnapped by the Muslims, when actually the bike raiders had temporarily gone out of the procession on their own. This mispropaganda made the processionists rush to the Muslim shops.
For instance, in Kolar in September 1990, during the Ramjanam Bhoomi movement, the police prevented the Ramjyoti yatra being taken through Muslim dominated areas in Srinivaspura. This was capitalized on by RSS/VHP in giving statements and spreading rumours against Muslims. The rural masses were thus instigated and over the next week about hundreds of acres of mango orchards were destroyed around Kolar. Immediately a month later a quarrel between the organizers of Id-Milad and RSS activists regarding decorations ended in some Muslim youth pelting stones on buses and a maruthi car with a pregnant woman inside being badly hit. This incident was blown up and all sorts of imagination were packed into it, and rumours that the pregnant woman was hit and womb ripped open was circulated among rural folk to instigate them against Muslims. And thus began clashes and violence on Muslims.
This can be seen in the riots that took place in Dharwad in 1992 following the Babri masjid demolitions. After the demolitions, the village remained largely peaceful. The first sign of trouble appeared when some Hindus alleged that a few stones were thrown at a temple on Hanuman Koppa (where 2 temples and 1 mosque are located next to one another). However the Peace Committee was able to soothe the frayed tempers and restore order. About 9 days later, the temple was rumoured to have been stoned again. This sparked of riots, causing a large mob to come together with the intention of destroying Muslims and their property. It is important to note that inspections of the temple showed no signs of such stoning.
In Bhatkal on 1st April 1993, violence was sparked off following rumours that three stones were hurled at Ramanavami chariot procession taken off from the Channapatna Maruthi temple. The violence claimed the lives of 4 people and injured 58 people. 147 houses were looted, 44 shops were gutted and 29 shops pillaged and 11 fishing boats were torched. Textile shops, a stone crushing unit, rice mills and a PVC pipe factory worth 2 crores were all ruined. Four places of worship were set on fire. Following this the situation gradually limped back to normal by the 20th. Following the visit of various politicians including the CM on the 28th, again on the night of 29th April, a rumour spread that stones had been hurled at the Ganapathi temple resulting in renewed violence in which 2 people were fatally stabbed.
In Bhadravati, in August 1994, rumours played the main role in causing riots, starting from Bhadravati and then spreading to the neighbouring villages, where the modus operandi was to spread rumours that the people of a particular community had indulged in violent attacks. Thus communal passion was aroused, and a sense of insecurity was created among people of a particular community. The situation worsened when news spread that a place of worship had been stoned by miscreants. What is interesting is that, the violence first started of in Bhadravati following the Id procession.
In September 1997, riots broke out in Bangalore, in Jayanagar, when a bunch of rumour mongers spread the word that a place of worship had been razed to the ground. Trouble started when a section of people started pelting stones at another group, which had agreed in principle with the Corporation authorities to demolish an illegal structure near a place of worship in 4th Block, Jayanagar. A fight began and soon rumours spread that the place of worship had been demolished. BMTC buses were set on fire, scooterists were assaulted and cars burnt.
In Hassan, in January 1998, violence was sparked by rumours that one community was trying to construct a place of worship. Trouble started in the morning, when a group of people started construction work at an open space between a place of worship and a school imparting religious teachings. As word spread, a 1,500 crowd gathered around the place opposing the construction. Vehicles were set afire, and two shops were damaged.
Rumours were again the cause of the communal violence at Suratkal in December 1998.
The group clashes at Kurtakoti and Antur-Bentur villages in Dharwad, in May 1997, the immediate cause for the violence to break out in large degrees was a rumour that spread, that a Congress worker had died of injuries he had got after a private row with rival party (Janta Dal) workers.
Role of secular forces
The peace committees that were set up did not seem to be working with alacrity during the times of the 1986 Mysore riots.
Immediately after the Ayodhya incident, most areas including Belgaum and Hubli tried to form Peace Committees to prevent violence. Thought the committee in Hubli was not very successful in containing the riots, the Belgaum Citizens Peace Committee, comprising Gandhians, Trade Unionists, women and Social Activists prevented riots to a large extent, thanks to their sustained work in meeting regularly to plan strategies to maintain communal harmony.
After the Babri Masjid related riots in Dakshina Kannada, local communal harmony committees have played a major role in the process of recovery. In Katepalla and Krishnapura, two villages in Mangalore district which witnessed the worst violence in the district, the local Yuvak Mandal and peace committee have worked to build an atmosphere of goodwill and harmony in the region. Similar peace committees were set up in villages in Kannur Mandal limits. Ullal has two peace committees. All these committees are also trying to ensure that the victims gain the rightful compensation.
Several eminent writers, lawyers, academicians and heads of religious sects came together after the riots to promote inter-religious amity.
After the Hindu-Sikh Bidar riots of 1988, unofficial and semi-official goodwill committees were set up, such as the Citizens for Democracy which sent in a report of the riots at Bidar.
Independent Initiatives were taken by a handful of organizations towards fighting communalism. One such move is the formation of the Anti-Communal Patriotic Front, an initiative of Karnataka State Daily Wage Employees’ Federation president K.S.Sharma and a Professor of Karnataka University, professor Ramalingam. The Front was formed with the immediate purpose of opposing the BJP’s plan to hoist the national flag at Idgah Maidan in Hubli on Republic Day, the Front proposes to intensify its activity and make it a People’s Movement. Another organization that has come up is the Hindu-Muslim Ekta Morcha.
Eg, Kolar in 1990
Presence of an ever-ready riot mob to carry out tasks, respond to riots elsewhere while spreading the riot, etc.(institutionalized riot systems!)
Role of local media
The local media has had an instrumental role during most communal riots. This has been seen even during the 1988 Kolar riots where the local papers blew up stories of all sorts. Bombs were ‘discovered’, which later proved to be a hoax. Even during the 190 riots, the Kolar Patrike and Kolar Vani which are RSS/VHP sympathizers did much damage by publishing the names of the dead, injured and arrested thereby sending signals to the communities. Further the descriptive accounts of the dead, added emotional content to the atmosphere. However, “Honnidi” another local newspaper stood isolated championing the cause of secular tradition.
During the 1993 riots of Bhatkal, the media played a role in heightening the already existing tension by writing about the presence of “foreign hand” behind the communal tensions.
In 1986/87 riots broke out over the publication of a blasphemous story in the ‘Deccan Herald’ in Bangalore and Mysore.
In the 1988 Hindu-Sikh riots that took place at Bidar, there was undue delay in reporting of the incidents in the national dailies. Although the disturbances took place between 14th and 16th September, it was almost a week later that the national press published these reports. Immediate publication of a report would have shown that the Sikhs in this case were not the culprits, but the victims of a communal outrage, thereby preventing rumours that warped the public mind.
Economic dynamics of a riot from causal factors, method of the riot and aftermath
Economics inevitably plays a crucial role if one were to understand the method behind communal tensions besides understanding the casual factors and the potential targets during a riot sequence. As seen elsewhere the method of riots has been to destroy the economical base and livelihoods of victims.
The population of Kolar town is about one lakh. The population pattern is—Muslims, about 28%, Scheduled Case and Tribes 23%, Okkaligas, Komoti Shetty etc. 30% and Backward Classes 16%, and remaining include other minorities. Muslims have played an important role in the economic development of the District. Most of the shops in the market and some of the Industries are owned by them. They also control the first stage of Silk Industry like twisting, reeling etc. The silk trade is an important bread winner for thousands of people in Kolar. The entire trade involves many stages to produce the final product – the silk yarn, with the various stages controlled by different communities. The silk manufacture involves – (a) rearing cocoons (b) marketing cocoons (c) extracting thread from cocoons (d) twisting thread to form yarn (e) marketing yarn. Rearing cocoons is a semi agricultural activity and as such silk cocoons are reared in villages around Kolar by farmers – big and small – who are Hindus. These cocoons are then brought to centralized cocoon purchasing agency at Kolar where the market is controlled by Muslim middle men. As elsewhere in a market economy, when the marketing forces take over the farmers are ruthlessly exploited at every level. The extraction is done by the reelers who mostly are Muslims. Here exists tension between two communities – between Hindu farmers and Muslim reelers – due to business interests. There exist more than 1500 reeling units employing more than 3500 persons. Interesting fact is that this labour force is entirely migratory drawn from villages around Kolar. They are all Muslims. The twisting of silk thread is a capital intensive industry, involving large machinery. The labour employed do skilled work and are paid more. The twisting business responds to Bangalore market. But the yarn twisters depend on Hindu money lenders who stock, hoard the yarn and make money. Here another tension exists between Hindu and Muslim individuals due to business interests. It is this tension that is exploited and harnessed through communal means by the RSS/BJP and has been amply evidenced in the Kolar riots where time and again the Muslim-dominated silk-production stages have been targeted. Even the orchards of Muslims have not been spared especially in the 1988 riots where hundreds of acres of mango orchards were destroyed initially in Kolar but spreading to Coorg and Chamarajpet later.
Just prior to the 1988 Kolar riots, the Hindu Community was also seen taking increasing interest in business and industry. The fact that in that riot the major targets of the rioters are the properties and shops points to the fact that the communal riots are the extensions of the business and economical contradictions. Religious feelings are provoked by the fundamentalist to mobilise the mass to safeguard such interest. The B. J. P. and RSS elements have as in other incidents always used the religion to threaten the minorities.
In Hubli, there is a history of disputes between the Pategar community and the Muslims. The former are accused of engaging themselves in illicit distillation and smuggling. Kambripet, near Hubli, is where the illicit liquor trade dominated by the Pategar (Pattagar) community flourished. The liquor barons in Bangalore and the ex-police commissioner had raided and enforced a closure ban on them in 2001. They wanted the commissioner transferred and used the issue of Ashok Singhals Birthday celebrations to do so.
Communal clashes erupted as a result of verbal altercation between two groups of bus agents belonging to two communities over business competition that first took personal and then communal turn. 1 person was killed and 2 injured in police firing.
Besides the role of political parties, one of the other reasons cited for the 1993 Bhatkal riots included the economic advancement of the Muslim community which was to the disliking of other communities.
The Hindu-Sikh riots that took place at Bidar in 1988 have a background of economic competition, which played a part in bringing events closer to the unfolding denouement. The first was the rivalry over obtaining sanction for a capitation fee-based medical college in Bidar. There were several contestants, the strongest being Joga Singh, (the head of the Guru Nanak Jheera Prahbandhak Committee and Guru Nanak Jheera Sahib Educational Foundation which set up educational institutions). A ‘Citizen’s Committee’ was formed by the rival educational societies which were in the running for the medical college with the contender being Kashinath Belure, who had the backing of the State BJP secretary. The second factor, one that was used to give a communal twist to what was essentially business rivalry, was the repercussion of the post-Operation Bluestar Punjab situation, the growth of terrorism in Punjab and the deteriorating attitudes to Sikhs as a minority community outside Punjab. The local communal leaders lost no opportunity to cash in on what was being reported almost daily in the media about Punjab, and they spread the impression that it was only Hindus who were being killed there. A direct and deliberate communal appeal was made that all Sikhs were potential terrorists, that Bidar was in danger of becoming the next Amritsar so as to make the medical college demand a mass issue. Thus the ground was further prepared for a chance altercation between members of two communities to set off a raging fire.
Trouble came on the evening of September 14th when a group of Sikh students in Gandhinagar were asked to pay subscription for the Ganesh Chathurti celebrations that were to take place the next day. The students refused to pay as they claimed that they had paid up before. Arguments led to a scuffle and then to a clash in which some were injured. If the events of the day were spontaneous, planning clearly went into the developments of the next two days when the Sikhs, their homes and establishments were singled out for attack. Mobs went on the rampage on September 15th.
Pattern of the riots in terms of its method, causal factors for its sustenance and fizzling out, etc.
The 1990 riots established a clear method in the madness. The pattern shows some element of planning and mobilization prior to each attack. It is by and large Muslims who have been at the receiving end although in some cases they have retaliated attacking mainly Scheduled Caste pockets. During the actual rioting shops, establishments and homes of Muslim were singled out or attack. Victims testify to the extremely provocative slogans chanted by the frenzied mobs and the brutal way in which they killed innocent persons. Police and other sources point to the composition of the crowds. According to police in Channapatna crowds comprised of boys and men in the age group of 13 – 30. In towns like Channapatna there is a large unemployed army that can be mobilised. But a more serious development is the participation of schoolchildren which observers see as the result of the assiduous cultivation of teachers by communal organizations such as the RSS over the years. A notable development has been the involvement of middle-school and high school students especially in the villages. School teacher, eve becoming increasingly communal-minded and are using boy, for their purposes. This became clear while talking to some of those injured in the police firing in Davangere during the Rarna Jvothi procession. All the young men said that if there was another Rama Jyothi procession they would certainly participate. And why? “India is the country of Rama and I will give my life for a Rama temple in Ayodhya.’ says a youth no more than 20 years of age.
Spread of riots
The one thing noticed is that often though a communal incident is triggered off due to some local incident; it inevitably spreads to other areas, towns, villages and cities. The reasons behind this spread needs to be looked into and understood.
Spilling out of riots from urban areas into surrounding villages
One of the disquieting features of later communal riots (80’s onwards) has been the spilling out of riots from urban areas into surrounding villages. While large Muslim populations are mainly confined to urban areas, there are small pockets of Muslims in villages, which come under attack. This relatively new phenomenon poses both social and administrative problems. Socially, there has been little friction between Hindus and Muslims on communal grounds in the villages and the deterioration of relations shows that communalism is finding a new social (read rural) base. For the administration, especially the police, affording protection to small vulnerable communities is becomes very difficult.
This was most notable during the series of communal riots in 1990. In M.K. Doddi, near Kolar, all 40 houses of Muslims were destroyed by mobs. In Srinivaspura, a taluk headquarters town about 200 kms from Kolar, nearly 400 hectares of mango orchards owned by Muslims were razed. The 4 households of Muslims in Sugattur village, 5 kms from Kolar, were looted and burnt by mobs, who also killed two young men. In Chikkabathi village, 5 kms from Davangere, the houses of 6 Muslims and a dargah were looted and burnt.
Again in 1994 when there were riots in Bhadravati, it immediately spread to neighbouring villages of Mavinkere, Dodderi, Antaragange and Kalingahalli. The panic-stricken families fled their villages to take shelter with relatives elsewhere while others hid themselves in sugarcane fields. Some families also went to Shimoga and nearby places seeking refuge.
Riots in Suratkal in 1999 – 2000 spread to nearby rural areas like Baikampadi, Kulai, Katipalla, Ganeshpur, Chokkabetu and Krishnapur.
Spread of riots within urban areas
If one were to look at the incident in Venketeshpura (Bangalore) in July 1998, when the hoisting of religious flag triggered off communal riots, it spread to other areas in the cities as well such as Lingarajpuram, Kammanhalli road and Kacharkanahalli and other surrounding localities.
Even during Bhatkal riots of 1993, the violence soon spread to neighbouring villages of Bevalli, Mundalli and Nastara. In Bevalli a Muslim couple and their children were beaten by a gang and their house torched. The same night the gang set fire to a shop in Mundalli. In Nastara, hundereds of people gathered and set fire to the house few Muslims.
Another reason for the spread of riots is the ineffective role of the police due to various reasons. For example in 1997 riots in Jayanagar, trouble continued and spread because the police were scared to intervene for fear of bodily harm and poor protective gear. Moreover the armed policemen had been brought in from various places and had no idea of the topography of the area and there were no maps either to overcome this problem.
Arrest of Men
During the 1986 Mysore riot most of the men were arrested leaving the women alone to fend for themselves. As hordes of attackers set upon these homes, the women were forced to flee.
Duration of a riot
Bhatkal riots went on for 9 months!
Role of the police / government officials
Laxity of the police and inefficient handling of situations
According to people, even during the 1988 riots in Hubli, the police could have easily prevented the tragic incidents. They had allowed the procession to deviate from the pre fixed route. When the stone throwing and looting started, the police became silent spectators.
The lax nature of the police is very evident in their attitude in most of the riots, even places which were badly affected. In 1990, in Hubli, for instance, in a case of stabbing that took place in broad daylight in front of the traffic island, close to this station, the assailant was not traced. They were seen to be mute witnesses to violence in many of the riot struck cities. In Bangalore, there were many complains of the police letting miscreants setting homes afire, and only beating up the innocent returning home from work, whom they probably saw as an easy target. This indifferent behavoiur of the police can also be seen as linked to their need to protect the upper class or the politically strong class. (See below, under support of the Upper Class)
The police’s failure in taking precautions in sensitive areas is evident in Hubli, in 2001 when the birthday celebrations of Mr. Ashok Singhal, Chairman of the VHP, was held at Idgah Maidan. Riots were sparked of and violence erupted following Mr. Singhals visit, because the police had failed to control the processions taken out by the VHP and the Bajrang Dal activists.
The involvement of the police in the Idgah Maidan controversy, starting from 1992 is noteworthy. According to the Hindu, 23 September 2001, “he hoisting of the National Flag on the Idgah Maidan by the BJP in 1992 would have gone unnoticed if police stayed away from lowering the flag. They continued the folly during every national festival that followed, and told the Government that hoisting the National flag on the Maidan would lead to communal riots. The BJP politicized the issue and raked up the controversy during five national festivals in a row. The standoff resulted in opening of fire by police, killing six persons, on Independence Day in 1994.”
The main reason for such inefficiency was seen as the absence of clear-cut directions from top hampered policing. The negative attitude of the police who had been posted in the city for long periods of time, because of their political links, and lack of organized approach were also to be blamed.
During the 1986 riots in Mysore the police were very slow to react to the riots that followed the article “Mohammed the Idiot” article in Deccan Herald.
After the 1988 Bidar riots, the police came in for criticism by all, for untimely action. Tensions between the students and the local population had been on the increase for quite some time. The rise of the Hindu communal groups, their connivance with the local gangsters, and their open display of communally surcharged emotions, like the events preceding the Ganesh Chathurti festival- all these were apparently allowed a free rein inspite of warnings sounded by some citizens. Even when the violence started on 14th September night, the police acted in a lackadaisical manner
Police High handedness
In the 1986 riots in Mysore, the police overreacted by flushing out people seeking refuge in bungalows and even poorer homes of innocent people. Muslim leaders there accused the lower level police officials to have been the ones who unleashed a reign of terror.
According to the fact finding report on the 1988 riots in Hubli, people had complained that the Superintendent of Police, Mr. Dharmapala Negi had himself drove the jeep into the mosque compound and started beating the Muslims and had also taken some of them into custody. This incident had very badly injured the feelings of the Muslims and it was reflected in attacking Mr. Vani the Dy. S.P. Police-Officers and constables returned to their sense of duty only after the higher officers visited Kolar
The police in their bid to contain violence in many instances exceeded their limits. Particularly in Chitradurga in 1992, where the orders given to the police were to ‘fire to kill’, acclaimed by the D.G. of police and the Chief Minister, there was indiscriminate shooting of innocent people. Elementary measures like warning the crowd over the public address system to be followed by firing tear gas shells and then charging with batons and shooting only below the knees were all ignored. Boys as young as 12 to 14 who threw stones were shot and killed.
In Bangalore in 1992, many cases of violence turned out to be a confrontation between the police and the protestors, more than just communal violence, Of the 78 dead, in the riots, 33 were shot dead by the police.
During the 1993 riots in Bhatkal, the policemen entered the mosque in Chinnada Palli wearing shoes, thereby hurting the sentiments of Muslims and angering them further.
In Hubli, in 1994, when riots broke out on August 15, following the BJP’s attempts to hoist the flag, the police entered streets without prior notice and firing without provocation on innocent civilians. There were five deaths on the 15th due to police firing and one on the 19th when the driver of a police van fired at a group of people killing an innocent woman.
In 1993 in Bhatkal, the police began searching houses to identify the rioters apparently without obtaining Magistrate’s permission. The police has been accused of having broken open the doors and windows of many houses.
The police have been accused of partisanship on many counts; their indifference in the face of many of the riots is evident in places where they accused the innocent, letting the guilty go free. Some policemen came down heavily on the victims themselves. (The Mutavalli of Yarabnagar mosque in Banashankari, Bangalore described how he sheltered non- Muslim women and children, during the tension in December 1992, in the mosque when they felt insecure in their own home. But the police descended on this place, beat up the Mutavalli on charges of violating the curfew).
In places where curfew was declared, the police continued their autocratic behaviour. In Mysore, the curfew that was imposed affected the local newspapers, and some of its employees, including those with valid curfew passes, complained of being caned on the way to work
False cases had been filed against many of them by planting weapons in the homes of the accused. Even the relations of the victims of stabbing who had rushed the latter to police stations or hospitals were arrested and charged with ‘rioting’. The majority of those arrested were undoubtedly innocent and false cases had been foisted on them.
Further, the police refused to register complaints, specifically those that came from the poor like auto drivers, mechanics and petty businessmen.
Support to the upper and the politically strong Class
They alleged that people of upper castes were protected by the police. (The police were said to have given protection to one Mehta, a BJP leader living in the locality and the team conducting a report in Dharwad did find a police van parked near his house.) In Belgaum, in April 1992, after the stabbing of a youth over a money dispute, caused of riots in the city (as mentioned under settling private scores), the police could have averted these riots if they had arrested the people who had stabbed the man. But, evidently, the police were afraid to act decisively as the culprits were related to a Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) lady corporator, who owed her allegiance to a powerful MES leader.
Communal nature of the police
In many places, the communal nature of the police was quite evident. From the greater number of Muslims arrested, even in places where they were obviously innocent and were sometimes the victims themselves, it was obvious that the police had often been more vindictive towards them. Even in Dharwad where their behaviour was more or less restrained because the legislators representing Hubli- Dharwad happened to be Muslims, their communal nature was evident with most of the people who were arrested being Muslims.
The fact-finding team investigating the January 2000 Chikmangulur riots observed that the police were hand in glove with the Sangh Parivar; it was their decision to take out a procession on January 6, that triggered off the communal violence. It is interesting to note that the police had arrested more than 50 people of whom the majority were Muslims; however not a single member of the Sangh Parivar was arrested. Even though some of the leaders are openly and defiantly moving around, the police has shown no interest to arrest nor to file chargesheets against them. This shows the bias of the police. The fact-finding team condemns the police bias/atrocities vis-a-vis Muslims and poor Hindus. When the police arrested 23 people from the Basavanhalli slum area, none of them had any criminal records. Many of them were arrested indiscriminately and the houses were raided in the absence of men folk. Women were beaten up and their mangalsutras were taken away. In one particular instance, a girl child’s face was wounded with a police rifle bayonet causing a permanent facial disfigurement. The police did not spare small children and even a diabetic patient who suffered from chronic cellulitis. The police deprived the arrested Muslims the right to celebrate Ramzan, which showed their communal bias.
In Kolar the government officials and police behaved with communal bias. The Andhra Police deployed in Kolar were seen themselves abusing Muslims in foul language.
Police- criminal nexus
This was a common accusation at Hubli where a police-criminal nexus was seen to be in operation, and illegal activities like matka and smuggling went unchecked.
Many complaints of police not providing assistance to the injured were made, especially in Mysore where the inmates of the relief camp complained of inadequate facilities.
Inadequate precautions in sensitive areas
For example during the Annamma Devi procession which passed through a masjid in Neelasandra (Bangalore) in February 2003, inadequate police security was the reason for the communal flare-up.
During the 1993 riots in Bhatkal which was spreading to neighbouring villages, it was the timely intervention of the police in Nastara village that prevented further damage to a place of worship, thereby saving lots of besieged people from the gang.
Visits of Ministers
During the 1993 riots in Bhatkal, which started in April, the Chief Minister, local MP, leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and others visited Bhatkal following the initial riots. The then CM ministers spoke for communal harmony, met riot victims and assured people of an increase of compensation amounts.
Again in 1994 riots in Bhadravati, the Chief Minister, Mr. Veerappa Moily visited the town though he did not talk to affected people.
After the Hindu-Sikh Bidar riots of 1988, an official judicial committee was set up under Justice Shyamsunder which was to submit its report in three months.
The State government also constitutes two goodwill committees. The first consisted of prominent individuals like Surjit Singh Barnala, Lt Gen jagdish Arora and I.K.Gujral. The second comprised legislators from Karnataka.
Strengthening police forces
As a reaction to the 1997riots in Jayanagar, the police decided to strengthen the intelligence network besides providing the police personnel with greater mobility, rubber bullets and protective gear to quell rampaging mobs. It was also stated that there was a need for armed policemen to be equipped with mobiles and wireless sets to move speedily and restore order.
Hubli, 1995 Holi riots: The JD govt responded with alacrity to the Hubli developments. Director general of Police was put in charge, and additional forces including 2 companies of the rapid action force. A judicial inquiry was also ordered by the state govt to know what caused the trouble.
Hubli, 1994, ID Day: A judicial Inquiry was ordered, but it was yet to start in April, 1995 ( when the Holi riots took place)
After the Babri Masjid related riots in Dakshina Kannada in 1992, a communal harmony week was organized by the District Administration with great success. Hundreds of students and politicians took part in a human chain.
As part of its crime prevention campaigns, the police have formed Citizen’s Committees in Kolar and Taluk centres like Chikballapur, Bagepalli, Chinthamani, Mulbagal and Malur.
A state-level body, the Komu Souharda Vedike (forum for communal harmony) was formed in 1993 bringing together various organization to work together.
The ‘Campaign for National Unity, Karnataka State’ sponsored at the all-India level by 13 non-Congress, non-BJP parties. The Dalit Sangarsha Samiti is active with its large and well-knit organization.
Victims of riots
The main victims of riots, in 1993 in Bhatkal, were the poor – the fishermen Mogeras, the Namdharis, the Dalji and the Deccani Muslims. The rich of both the communities managed to safeguard their lives and property even though the clash began at their level.
During the 1997 riots in KG halli, those who were affected most were the push cart vendors, slum dwellers and shop owners.
During the 1986 riots in Mysore, most of the trouble was confined to areas in which the poor or the lower middle class lived. One of the prominent features during the riot was the savage fight between harijans and muslims (the best of neighbours otherwise) in Gandhinagar, a sprawling slum which is one of the miserably backward localities of Mysore. Of the more than 750 huts in this slum owned by harijans and tenanted by Muslims, about 240 were either ransacked demolished or burnt. Muslims suffered more than harijans in the insensate encounter. However, the more affluent areas were not totally free of trouble as scores of two – wheelers belonging to both communities were burnt down.
Baba Budhangiri, Chikmanglur
Baba Budangiri represents a unique example of composite culture of India. Hindus and Muslims alike offer their obeisance to the place in a very cordial manner. It was never a point of dispute throughout the centuries. It is only after 1975 that the dispute emerged regarding the management of the Dargah/Peetha.
Idgah Maidan, Bangalore
Idgah Maidan in Jayanagar, Bangalore
Idgah Maidan in Jayanagar_0
Idgah Maidan, Hubli
Idgah Maidan at Hubli_0
Rama Jyothi Procession
Rama Jyothi processions_0
Fallout of Babri Masjid Demolition
Babri Masjid demolition_0
Festivals and Riots
Festival occasion as moment for riot_0
The Communal Violence of December 1988
The Communal violence of December 1988_0
Report on the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005
This is an analysis of the proposed Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005 which tries to understand the its efficacy in today’s reality of spreading communal hatred and violence.
Final – Some reflections_0
Police firing during VHP Chief’s birthday celebrations
Police firing during VHP Chief’s birthday celebrations- Report by SICREM and PUCL (K)