Karnataka violence: Interfaith marriage triggers clash between Hindu outfit and police in Bagalkot

When the couple approached the police seeking protection from their parents, members of the right-wing group rushed to the station, demanding to hand over the couple, which escalated the situation.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published May 09, 2024 | 7:33 PMUpdatedMay 09, 2024 | 9:11 PM

Karnataka Bagalkot Badami Hindu Muslim interfaith couple Hindu outfit Police

The peaceful union of a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl in Karnataka’s Bagalkot turned into a battleground as Hindu outfits clashed with police over the interfaith marriage on the night of Wednesday, 9 May.

The bride and the groom, who belonged to different religions and were adults, reportedly got married against the wishes of their parents at Rona taluka of the Gadag district on 28 April, claimed sources.

When they approached police seeking protection from their parents, members of a right-wing group rushed to the station and demanded that the cops hand over the couple to them, which escalated the situation.

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Altercation between activists and police

On 8 May, the newly married interfaith couple turned up at the office of the Bagalkot superintendent of police (SP) seeking protection from their parents.

As soon as this news reached right-wing outfits, their members rushed to the district police office and demanded that the cops hand over the newly-married couple, escalating tensions.

The on-duty police officials refused to heed their demands, leading to a violent altercation.

The protest took a violent turn when Bagalkot SP Amarnath Reddy rushed to the spot to pacify the agitators.

The members of the right-wing groups launched a protest against the government and police and also pelted stones at the officers.

According to sources, “SP Reddy rushed to the spot after learning that activists launched a protest against the police over interfaith marriage. While he was pacifying the agitators, one of the members raised slogans against the police department.”

They added: “Enraged, the SP lost his cool and slapped one of the protesters creating a nuisance. When the activists continued to raise slogans and pelt stones, police were compelled to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd. They took three persons into preventive custody.”

In the altercation, four protesters were injured. Several police personnel also sustained minor injuries.

Following this, the cops heightened security measures in Bagalkot.

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‘Concerned about safety of Hindu boy’

On condition of anonymity, a right-wing activist told South First: “We are not opposing this interfaith marriage. We rushed to the police station to extend legal help to the boy. We also demanded that the cops hand over the newly married couple to us.”

He added: “Police denied our demand and tried to send us out of the police station. The activists were enraged by the behaviour of the cops, and had verbal fights with them. Th cops are acting as puppets of the local Congress MLA.”

He also said: “Police misbehaved with us at the station. Importantly, SP Reddy slapped one of our members. Enraged by this, we raised slogans that the SP was anti-Hindu. Police quickly lathi-charged the activists.”

When asked why they demanded the handover of the couple, he said, “We have no issues with this marriage. The girl’s family opposed the marriage. We are concerned about the safety of the Hindu boy. There are chances that Muslim outfits might opt for the wrong route to end this marriage.”

He added: “Three of our activists have been assaulted and have sustained injuries. We are planning to file a complaint against the SP.”

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FIR against eight Hindu activists

Bagalkot’s Navanagar Police registered an FIR against eight Hindu activists for allegedly pelting stones at the on-duty police personnel on Wednesday.

Three members of the Hindu Jagran Vedike (HJV) were also taken into preventive custody last night and released later.

The case has been registered against HJV members Kumaraswamy Hiremath, Vikram Deshpande, Manoj Karodiwala, Prakash Niranjan, Ramesh Bandivaddar, Kumar Ganiger, Nagesh Ambiger and Raju Neelanayaka.

The cops booked the eight activists under the various sections of the law, including Sections 341, 504, 324 and 332 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

In the complaint, the police alleged that the accused not only raised slogans against the police department but also hurled abuses and pelted stones.

Condemning the alleged atrocity against the Hindu activists, the Hindu outfits demanded action against the SP.

Meanwhile, the newly married interfaith couple were sent back to their residence after taking statements from them in a missing case, which was filed by a girl’s parents at Badami.

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Couple sent back home to safety

SP Amarnath Reddy told South First: “The boy and girl belong to different religions and are adults. Both have no issues with their marriage and even the girl is firm about their relationship.”

He added: “Their parents were not happy with this marriage. The girl’s family had filed a missing complaint. After taking statements from the newly married couple, we closed it.”

He continued: “They approached the local police for protection. The Hindu activists turned up and demanded to hand over the couple to them. We opposed and refused to honour their demands.”

The SP also said: “The law is in favour of the couple. When we refused to send them, the Hindu activists launched the protest and created a nuisance in Navanagar. They also reportedly pelted stones on the police.”

Reddy added: “Police were compelled to lathi-charge to pacify the gathered crowd. An FIR has been registered against the eight people. Three were taken into preventive custody, where they were released later. The probe is underway. The couple have been sent safely to their home.”

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)