A mob, angry over a social media post, went on a rampage in Hubballi tehsil of Karnataka's Dharwad district in early hours of Sunday and damaged a Hanuman temple, a nearby hospital, and many police vehicles, according to police.
The police said CrPC Section 144 has been imposed in the area, which bans gathering of more than four people at a place.
Hubbali-Dharwad Police Commissioner Labhu Ram said, "Around 40 people have been arrested and some FIRs have been registered. Twelve of our officers on duty were injured and some police vehicles were damaged. We have taken all precautionary measures so that such incidents do not occur again. We will not spare those who have taken law into their hands."
Labhu Ram added that someone made a post on social media that others took objection to and filed a police complaint. Acting on it, a case was registered and a person was arrested.
However, not satisfied with the action, people gathered around the police station who were later persuaded to leave. But around midnight, according to Labhu Ram, a large number of people once again started gathering around the police station. Their leaders were summoned to the station and apprised about the action taken so far, but the mob outside the station was not ready to listen to them and they went on a rampage. They damaged police vehicles and pelted stones.
The use of a huge number of stones made police suspect that a truckload of stones and bricks were used in the crime.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai termed the incident an organised attack and said organisations behind it should know that the state will not tolerate such incidents.
Bommai said, "I want to tell very clearly that whoever takes law into their hands, our police will not hesitate from taking stringent action against them [rioters]. Whoever they may be. Hence, whoever is behind it and instigated the mob will be punished. I want to tell the organisations behind such incidents, not to break the law. Karnataka state will not tolerate it."
He also appealed to the people not to give different political colour to this incident as it should be looked at from the law and order point of view.
He said, "If a large number of people gather outside the police station, certainly it means that it was an organised crime."
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said some police officers have sustained injuries, including the inspector of Old Town police station.
He said, "A police officer is in a serious condition. Some people involved in the attack have been arrested. It was a pre-planned attack. The miscreants wanted to create Devara Jeevanahalli and Kadugondahalli like incident in Hubballi."
The Home Minister was referring to the 2020 riot in Bengaluru where about 4,000 Muslims set on fire the residence of Congress MLA from Pulakeshi Nagar assembly constituency in Bengaluru R Akhanda Srinivas Murthy and his sister over a social media post by his relative. The mob then torched many vehicles and set the DJ Halli and KG Halli police stations afire. In that incident, four people were killed, including three in police firing.
Reacting to the Hubballi rampage, senior BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal demanded that the government should act tough against the miscreants in a way that they should never think of repeating the incident.
Denouncing the incident, former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy said it was not proper for vested interests to create rift between communities for their personal gain.
In a series of tweets, the JD(S) second-in-command said those who took law into their hands should have reposed faith in the system.
He said, "For the past few days communal cauldron is boiling. It hurts everyone. It should not continue. The Hubballi incident shows that we have not learnt any lessons from the past."
With PTI inputs