A recent incident of vandalisation of Hindu idols in Karnataka's Hassan district has been widely reported by media outlets. The incident has been portrayed through a communal claim by the media outlets, implying that the miscreants that vandalised the idols were from the Muslim community.
Miscreants vandalized idols of Hindu Gods that were stored at a temple godown in Karnataka's Hassan district. The vandalisation incident took place at Malekallu Tirupathi Hill, 2 kilometres away from the Arasikere town. Following the media reports on the incident, religious tensions erupted in the area.
The incident took place on May 30, 2022. Following the incident, media reports conflated the incident with recent communal clashes.
A video report by Times Now with the title, 'Idols Vandalised, Temple Destroyed, Yatra Attacked, Kashmiri Hindus Killed: Hinduism Under Threat?' was uploaded to YouTube on June 1, 2022. In the video, the footage from the vandalisation incident in Arasikere was conflated and presented alongwith incidents of communal clashes that took place in the country. Footages from communal clashes from Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka were shown in the report.
In another report, India Today reported the incident with the title 'Attack on Astha (faith)'. The video report, published on June 1, 2022, included a byte from a member of the Hindu right-wing group, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti alleged that there was a conspiracy behind the incident and "anti-Hindu forces seem to be involved."
Following these reports, several right-wing groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and The Bajrang Dal held protests in Hassan. The police then intensified police deployment around the area. The incident has also been tweeted by the Twitter page Hindu Genocide Watch, which has been notorious for spreading misinformation that inflames communal tensions.
News channels such as India Today and Times Now conflated communal clashes alongwith the incident that took place at Arasikere town of Hassan district of Karnataka. This has led to protests by Hindu right-wing groups demanding action against the accused who they considered to be from the Muslim community.
The Logical Indian fact check team verified the viral claim and found it to be false. The Muslim people were not involved in this case.
We conducted a keyword search for reports which provided more details about the incident. We came across reports by DNA, News18 and Firstpost, all published on May 31, 2022.
The reports stated that the idols of Hindu deities were being made for a museum at the Malekallu Tirupati Hill temple near Arsikere town.
Some of the idols were in the finishing stage and were vandalised by the miscreants. As the idols were being prepared for installation, the miscreants reached the area where the idols were kept. Previously, the miscreants first swam in the Kalyani (sacred water body of the temple). Despite objections, the miscreants smoked in the temple area. They threatened and forced the labourers out of the premises. Then they went to the exhibition centre of the museum and damaged the idols by using rods and other equipment.
The reports also quoted Hassan District Superintendent of Police R Srinivas Gowda. The reports quoted him as saying that a dog squad and fingerprint experts were used to collect clues on miscreants.
The Hindu had also reported on the incident in an article published on May 31, 2022, giving further details. Thirteen idols, some of which were in the finishing stage, were vandalized by the miscreants, according to the Hindu report. Sridhar Murthy, a resident of Arsikere had hired sculptors to construct idols of deities on the temple premises.
In a follow-up report by The Hindu, the religious identity of the miscreants was further clarified. In the report published on June 6, 2022, one of the accused is named Abhishek Naik, 20, who is a resident of Karehalli located in the Hassan District. The report quotes the Superintendent of Police R. Srinivasa Gowda, stating that the accused had visited the temple regularly and spent time swimming in the pond.
However, the sculptors stopped them from entering the premises where the idols were being made. This had created heated arguments which led to differences between the miscreants and the sculptors, leading to the vandalism of the idols.
The Superintendent stated that no persons from any religion other than Hinduism were involved in the incident. 'None of the accused was non-Hindus', the SP is quoted as saying. The report also stated that the matter is under investigation and three of the accused have been arrested with one accused still missing.
For further details, we spoke to D Ashoka, the Deputy Superintendent of Police Arsikere who told us that all four of the people involved were from the Hindu community, and "three of them were minors and one was an adult." He added that they have been charged under Section 448, Punishment for trespassing, Section 427, Mischief which entails damage, of the IPC and the subsequent Section 2 of the Karnataka Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
The news channels such as India Today and Times Now conflated communal clashes alongwith the incident that took place at Arasikere town of Hassan district of Karnataka. This has led to protests by Hindu right-wing groups demanding action against the Muslim community.
As we found out, several news outlets had reported that despite objections, the miscreants smoked in the temple area. They threatened and forced the labourers out of the premises. None of these news reports had mentioned the religious identities of the miscreants. As per the reports by The Hindu, the Superintendent of Police stated that no persons from any religion other than Hinduism were involved in the incident. 'None of the accused was non-Hindus', the SP is quoted as saying.
This affirms that the incident was exaggerated and was communalised by media outlets which provoked protests across Hassan. However, the incident had no accused from the Muslim community.
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