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Karnataka: VHP cadre flings slipper at mosque during Ganesh rally, 5 arrested

Ballary: A Ganesh visarjan procession, organised under the banner of the Hindu Mahasabha Ganesha Visarjan Committee by Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal, in Sirguppa of Ballary in Karnataka, on Saturday, where a large number of Hindu devotees took part, sparked controversy and condemnation on social media following a video that surfaced online.

As the procession passed by the Soudagar Sunni masjid, located in the Muslim-populated area of Sirguppa, an alleged member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) flung his slipper towards the mosque, which was recorded by cameras nearby.

Ballary Superintendent of police Saiduladavat in a press statement said that an FIR has been registered after the complaint. ” We have arrested five miscreants who did this. Further, we will produce them in court,” he added.

The five accused have been booked under Sections 153 (a) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 109 (Punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment), 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (Rioting), 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs), 505(2) (Statements conducing to public mischief), 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence commit­ted in the prosecution of common object) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Local people claimed that the accused Nitish Kumar is a member of the VHP and was accompanied by several from the fringe.

A portrait of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi and VD Savarkar was also reportedly displayed in the procession. Police personnel were deployed to maintain peace and control the situation.

A portrait of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi was displayed in the procession.

President of the Soudagar Sunni Masjid, Mehboob Basha, while speaking to expressed his concern over the incident and stated, “Several processions have passed earlier with no such act of hatred. This time Bajrang Dal and VHP group have created unrest in the town.”

“Young Muslims in the area have been anguished by this act of throwing a slipper at the masjid. However, we asked them to calm down and to deal with this patiently, by approaching the law. We are going to file a complaint against this with the Superintendent of police,” Mehboob added.

Habeeb, another resident of Sirguppa said that the accused, Kumar, has connections with several senior Bajrang Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.

“It looks like a planned act to disturb peace in the city,” said Habeeb.

“As the Ganesh procession led by Bajrang Dal came close to the masjid they shouted slogans of Jai Shree Ram and played the song “Mandir Banayenge” (a song popularised by the Hindu right-wing’s demand for the demolition of Babri Masjid and construction of a Ram temple in its stead) at a high volume,” Habeeb added.

Campus Front of India, state secretary, Syed Sarfaraz, also condemned the act and demanded that the “fanatics of the Sangh Parivar” who threw sandals at the masjid be identified and arrested.

After the video surfaced and went viral on social media, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Karnataka, Alok Kumar, responded stating that the accused had been held.

“We have secured the accused persons. Appropriate legal action is being taken against them,” tweeted Kumar.