Riot-hit Karnataka towns peaceful, curfew in Shimoga

Bangalore, March 2 (Calcutta Tube) Karnataka’s riot-hit Shimoga town was peaceful with the ongoing curfew keeping people indoors and Hassan town was quiet too, police said Tuesday, a day after two people were killed during protests over an article on the veil based on the writings by Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen.

‘The situation is peaceful in Shimoga and near normal in Hassan,’ A.R. Infant, additional director general of police, told IANS late Tuesday.

The three-day curfew imposed Monday evening on Shimoga, about 280 km from here, may be relaxed for a few hours Wednesday morning if the situation remains peaceful Tuesday night, Infant said.

Of the two killed in Shimoga, one died in police firing and another after assault by a mob. The two have been identified as Latif, 25, and Sadiq, 23.

Violence had erupted Monday as hundreds of members of the minority community hit the streets in Shimoga and Hassan, around 180 km from this tech hub, protesting against the Kannada daily that carried the article.

An Urdu daily Monday published a commentary on the article. Police have registered cases against the two dailies, published from Bangalore.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa told the state assembly Tuesday that the situation in the two towns was under control.

‘Those who take law into their hands will be strictly dealt with,’ he asserted, adding that 103 people have been taken into custody in the two towns.

Around 75 shops and 50 vehicles were damaged, he said.

Police deployed additional forces in Shimoga to maintain law and order and stepped up vigil in sensitive areas.

Hassan saw tension too with a violent demonstration and a protest rally. Police clamped an order banning assembly of four or more people in the town to prevent any untoward incident and maintain peace.

The main opposition Congress slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for the sporadic violence and lawless situation in the state.

‘The government machinery has collapsed in the state as is evident from the violence and riots that broke out Monday over an article published in local dailies Sunday,’ Congress legislative party leader Siddaramaiah told reporters.

Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) legislator and former minister N.C. Nanaiah also criticised the government for failing to check the violence in the two towns.

‘Though the chief minister recently said police firing was banned in the state, the death of a youth in such a firing at Shimoga Monday exposes his claims,’ Nanaiah pointed out.

The opposition parties also lamented the failure of police intelligence in anticipating the trouble after the publication of such a controversial article.

Shimoga is the home town of Chief Minister Yeddyurappa; Hassan is the home town of former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, who heads the JD-S in the state.

Expressing shock at what had happened, Nasreen denied that she had written any article for any Karnataka newspaper.

‘I learned that the rioting and violence in Karnataka were provoked by an article written by me that appeared in a Karnataka newspaper. But I have never written any article for any Karnataka newspaper in my life. The appearance of the article in a Kannada daily is atrocious and horrifying. I was shocked by the incident,’ Nasreen told IANS in a written statement from her residence in a south Delhi neighbourhood.

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