Syed Mohammed Haneef, 27, along with eleven of his friends, was at a restaurant in Mattadahalli in Bengaluru’s RT Nagar on Tuesday evening to celebrate a friend’s daughter’s exam results. But evening took a different turn when they started receiving disturbing forwards on WhatsApp regarding clashes in a nearby area.
“Since the spot where the violence had broken out was hardly a kilometre away, we decided to go there and check it out,” said Haneef .
An architectural engineer, Haneef runs a YouTube channel named ‘Meri Awaz Suno’. When Haneef and his friends set out towards the Kaval ByrasaKndra bus stop, he thought he could get some video content for his channel. When the group was just 500 metres away from MLA Akhanda Srinivasamurthy’s house, they saw three cars torched - one was near the MLA’s house and two other cars were set on fire closer to an Anjaneya (Hanuman) temple near the bus stop.
That’s when he knew that this was bigger than he had imagined. “A few local youths who belonged to a particular community were standing in a group near the gate of the temple. When we asked them why, they said that they were trying to protect the temple from the protesters,” said Haneef.
Haneef and his friends, Mohammed Asif, who runs a flour mill, Noor Mohammed Azam, a farm vehicle driver, Mohammed Khaiser, a cricket player, Nadeem Khan, an interior decorator, Syed Khaja, a carpenter and seven others joined the group of youths and formed a human chain around the temple. They stood there, from 10.45 pm to 12 midnight, when police platoons arrived and asked them to leave as they were clearing the area.