NEW DELHI: At least three people were killed in India’s IT hub Bangalore after a “derogatory” Facebook post about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) sparked riots and resulted in clashes between police and thousands of protesters, it emerged on Wednesday.
According to the Times of India, the violence, that erupted at 7 pm on Tuesday, went on for at least five hours. The report added that 110 others had been arrested as of Wednesday morning.
The report stated that the violence erupted after a close relative of a local lawmaker, Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivasamurthy, made a “derogatory” post about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the social media site. The post has since been deleted.
Reacting to the post, a mob gathered outside the lawmaker’s house and set two cars on fire.
Police confirmed that Muzamill Pasha and six others from the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) were also detained for questioning, the publication said.
Bangalore Police Commissioner Kamal Pant wrote on Twitter that the lawmaker’s relative had been arrested for the post, along with about 100 others for rioting and arson, and the situation was now under control.
At least 60 officers were injured the previous evening as a furious crowd attacked a police station and set vehicles on fire. Local media images showed protesters trying to barge into the police building and shouting slogans outside the politician’s home.
Police opened fire with live ammunition and tear-gassed the violent crowds. Three people were critically wounded during Tuesday’s violence and at least one reporter was injured, police told AFP.
The TOI report added that protesters had demanded that the lawmaker’s relative be placed under arrest, who had later claimed that his Facebook account had been hacked and he did not post the objectionable content.
Meanwhile, Srinivasamurthy called the incident an “an act of miscreants”. “The police and government will investigate and initiate legal action against mischief mongers. I am the MLA of this constituency and everyone here is my family.
“I request you to maintain peace. I fear miscreants may take advantage of the situation,” he was quoted as saying.
A ban on gatherings was in effect in some areas of the city on Wednesday, with nearly 10,000 police reservists patrolling the streets to keep order.
Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India and is home to a sizable Muslim community among its eight million people.
India is officially a secular country but has been plagued by a long history of violence between its Hindu majority and Muslim minority. These incidents have increased in recent times, particularly since the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.
More than 50 people were killed during riots in the capital New Delhi earlier this year, with most of the victims Muslims.