Curfew relaxed for 90 minutes in riot-hit Karnataka town

Bangalore, March 3 (IANS) The three-day-old curfew in violence-hit Shimoga town of Karnataka was relaxed for 90 minutes Wednesday morning. People thronged shops to buy essential goods.

Police said the situation is peaceful in Shimoga, about 280 km from here, where riots broke out Monday over publication of an article on the burqa, purportedly written by Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen and translated by a Kannada daily.

Two people were killed, one in police firing and another in mob attack, and around 100 shops and 50 vehicles were damaged in the violence. Curfew was clamped Monday evening for three days.

More than 50 people have been detained by police so far.

‘Curfew was relaxed between 7 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. today (Wednesday). The situation is peaceful,’ a police spokesperson said on phone from Shimoga, home district of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.

A decision on lifting the curfew will be taken late Wednesday, the spokesperson said.

Life in Hassan, about 180 km from here, which also saw violence Monday over the article, was normal, police said. Hassan is the home district of former prime minister and Janata Dal-Secular leader H.D. Deve Gowda.

The Kannada daily and an Urdu daily which on Monday published a commentary on the article have apologised. However, police have booked cases against the two publications.

Late Tuesday the Kannada daily’s office in the communally sensitive coastal town of Mangalore, about 350 km from here, was vandalised by a group of masked men who escaped after warning the staff against publication of such articles.

A petrol bomb thrown at the office caused a minor fire but no employee was hurt, according to Mangalore police.

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