Bengaluru: The cyber forensic team of the Bengaluru police has ruled out riot accused P. Naveen Kumar’s claim that his social media account had been hacked before posting blasphemous material about Prophet Muhammad, which triggered the violence in DG Halli and KJ Halli areas Tuesday night.
However, Naveen, nephew of Pulakeshinagar’s Congress MLA Akhanda Srinivas Murthy, has now claimed an unknown person may have accessed his phone and posted the offensive message, because he is an “aspiring” politician whose residence was visited by many people.
The police investigation has found that Facebook was accessed and the message posted from Naveen’s phone, and forensic experts are now thoroughly checking his calls and messages.
“He claims there were several visitors at his home that day. He also says his phone is not password protected. We are looking at whether his claims are true. We have obtained CCTV footage from the neighbourhood and will go through it to see if there are any further clues,” a senior police officer privy to the investigation told ThePrint.
The officer said Naveen has also given them a set of names of people who visited him on the day. These people’s phone calls are being tracked.
The police also took Naveen to the riot-hit areas to recreate the situation, and have been recording statements of witnesses.
Calls from MLA’s residence
So far, the police have arrested more than 200 people in connection with Tuesday’s riots, while another 80 have been booked for creating tension and spreading false rumours through social media to mobilise crowds on the day, police sources said.
The death toll has risen to four, after a person arrested for inciting violence, who had suffered tear gas shell injuries on his chest and neck and also tested positive for Covid-19, died of a heart attack.
A second officer said the police have found several calls were made to Naveen from his uncle’s residence, possibly by his team members.
“These calls were made during the violence. We need to ascertain what was being communicated at the time — whether it was to warn him or advise him to find a secure place as the crowds were growing and attacking the MLA’s house,” the officer said.
The forensic team also found traces of inflammable liquids such as petrol, kerosene and diesel near the scene of the crime. The police said prima facie their investigations show that several people in the mob had come armed with such liquids to torch vehicles.
“They had clearly prepared for arson,” said the second officer.
Politics over the riots has also intensified, with Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai claiming the incident was linked to an internal fight in the Congress. Bommai said there was growing animosity between the Congress and the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), and that led to the situation going out of control.
However, Karnataka Congress chief D.K. Shivakumar hit back at Bommai, saying the government was trying to pass the blame for failing to control the riots.
“If at all there is any internal fight, it is within the BJP, not the Congress. It was a total failure of intelligence and the government’s inefficiency that led to the riots,” said Shivakumar. “The BJP has been trying to divide people based on caste and community, and what we saw Tuesday was a fallout of that.”