Bangalore: A juvenile girl who aggressively burnt 42 buses while conducting protests over Cauvery water-sharing has been arrested by the city police on Thursday night.
All the 42 buses have been reported to be belonging to Tamil Nadu-based private travel firm, KPN, at D’souza Nagar on Monday.
22 year old Bhagya suspected to have joined the mob after she was allegedly promised Rs 100 and a plate of mutton Biryani.
Bhagya is from Yadgir, in North Karnataka now stays with her parents Chandrakanth and Yellamma in Girinagar, close to the KPN garage.
She is a daily-wage labourer, who moved to the city with her parents two years ago.
“Bhagya was arrested on Thursday night, based on CCTV footage recorded in the vicinity of the incident. She was produced before a local court on Friday and was taken into police custody as her exact role and motive behind the torching of the buses and instigating the mob is yet to be ascertained. Since she is a woman, she cannot be kept in the police station overnight and has been sent to a remand home in Madiwala. She will be brought to RR Nagar police station on Saturday morning by a team of women police personnel and will be interrogated,” said an officer who is part of the investigation.
After her interrogation, she will be remanded to judicial custody and her chances of getting bail for the next six months are slim. The accused, who is from a poor economic background, is finding it difficult to hire a lawyer to fight her case.
Meanwhile the city’s advocates association stood up offering free legal aid for those arrested while fighting for the Cauvery water cause and Bhagya might be one who avails of the offer.
Preliminary investigations and CCTV footage show Bhagya supplying diesel and petrol to the accused and throwing it on the buses.
The police are yet to ascertain if she is a habitual offender and part of a pro-Kannada organisation.
She has been booked for attempt to murder (IPC 307), unlawful assembly (IPC 143), rioting (IPC 147), rioting with deadly weapon (IPC 148), voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means (IPC 324), causing damage (IPC 427), damage by fire or explosive substance (IPC 435) and Column 2 of Prevention of Destruction and Loss of Property Act of 1981.
Bhagya’s involvement came to light after the RR Nagar police arrested seven youths, of whom five were from D’souza Nagar. The accused told police that they were instigated to commit the acts of arson by an unidentified woman. This confession led to Bhagya’s arrest.
When contacted, KP Natarajan, the Salem-based owner of KPN travels, said his employees had informed him of the arrest and also stated that his injured drivers had confirmed that it was the same woman instigating the mob that set his vehicles ablaze.
“I was told that the police have arrested a young woman in connection with the incident.”
“My drivers have already confirmed her identity and stated that she was the one leading the mob during the attack. We do not know much about her. We are also planning to submit a petition to the chief minister of Karnataka seeking stern action against those responsible for the incident,” Natarajan added when contacted on Friday evening.