For the past few weeks, residents of Mogaveerapatna, Ullal, have been harassed by a group of people who knock at doors in the middle of the night. “Whenever we come out, they run away,” said Dhamavathi, a resident.
The harassment flared up and took a communal turn on Wednesday when the group launched a series of attacks which left a teenager injured and damaged three houses, a car and a boat in Mogaveerapatna.
In the early hours of Wednesday, stones and bottles were thrown at Dhamavathi’s window. “I could see the group creating a ruckus on the road. They went away after residents coming out of the houses,” she said.
Down the road, the miscreants barged into the house of Vishalakshi Kotian and assaulted her son Nitesh Kotian (19). Ms. Vishalakshi, tending her injured son, said she had opened the door thinking that her husband, a fisherman, had returned. “The men barged in, pushed me aside and dragged my son out. He was thrashed with a rod, and later had glass bottles thrown at him,” she said. Mr. Kotian was admitted with head injuries to the psychiatry ward of a private hospital nearby.
Both she and Praveen Salian, whose house was targeted, blame “a gang that has tried to create communal tension” in the area.
Police Commissioner R. Hithendra said some members of Mogavira community had caught hold of two youths suspected of creating nuisance by knocking doors of Mogaveerapatna residents. The two were assaulted. He said the two escaped and then attacked houses, a boat and Mr. Kotian was assaulted.
The police have arrested a few people and are on a look out for a few more. “Section 144 will be clamped for three days to control the situation,” said Mr. Hitendra.
A route march of Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) was done in Ullal. At least five battalions of the KSRP and the District Armed Reserve Personnel were deployed at Ullal.
Old-timer Imran, who runs a shop in Kotepura, said: “The communities are inter-dependent despite the clashes. I’m worried about my trade now… It’s the handiwork of communal elements.”
Wednesday morning saw a large number of residents gathering at the houses of the victims of the wee-hour assault. Though the police dispersed the crowds, a fragile unease prevailed.
Tensions flared up again around 3.30 p.m., when the groups accused each other of throwing stones near Jumma Masjid, Kodi. The police acted as buffer between the two communities. While no one was injured, two photographers – including one from The Hindu – were accosted by a large group of people who “were upset by the portrayal of the community in the local TV channels”.