Riots Erupt in India's Bangalore Over Facebook Post About Prophet Muhammad

Several people have been killed in the southern Indian city of Bangalore after rioting broke out, reportedly sparked by a Facebook post that local Muslims regarded as blasphemous.

At least three people were killed Tuesday night when police opened fire on crowds who were protesting the Facebook post—since deleted—which Muslims said was offensive to Prophet Muhammad, the BBC reported.

The man accused of making the post—named only as Naveen in local media—is reportedly related to local politician Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, prompting protesters to gather outside the lawmaker's home in Bangalore—the capital of Karnataka state—and set fire to vehicles.

Demonstrators also pelted police with stones when officers arrived to restore the peace, the BBC reported.

Police said that protesters went on to attack a nearby police station where they believed Naveen was being held, India Today reported. An unnamed senior police officer told the Times of India that some 4,000 people were involved in the unrest, and that the crowds blocked roads preventing police reinforcements.

Police said they arrested the man accused of making the post, plus another 110 people who took part in the protest. City commissioner Kamal Pant said at least 60 police—including senior officers—were injured in the violence. A curfew was imposed in two city districts.

Bangalore Police Commissioner Kamal Pant told The Indian Express that while three people had been killed, "we are yet to ascertain the exact reason behind these deaths." Pant also appealed on Twitter to all local communities to "cooperate with police to maintain peace."

Bangalore police tweeted that the situation had been brought "under control" and said officers had used live ammunition to disperse the crowd. Police fired live rounds after tear gas and baton charges failed to clear the protesters.

Murthy posted a video statement urging calm and promising protesters that justice would be served. "I appeal to my Muslim brethren not to fight over someone who has violated the law," Murthy said.

"Whatever be the matter, we are all brothers. Whoever is responsible we shall ensure that proper punishment is given to those responsible. I am with you."

B.S. Yediyurappa, the chief minister of Karnataka state and member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said police had been ordered to take "strict action against the perpetrators."

Yediyurappa tweeted that authorities "will take all measures to punish the guilty," adding: "The government will not tolerate such provocations and rumors. I appeal to the public to maintain peace."

India, Bangalore, riots, Muslims, Prophet Muhammad, blasphemy
Policemen stand guard next to burnt police vehicles along a street in Bangalore, India on August 12, 2020, after violence broke out overnight over a Facebook post about the Prophet Mohammad. MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP via Getty Images/Getty