Viral message prompts protest by IMA investors

Mumtaz, an IMA investor, protests outside the company’s offices in Shivajinagar on Sunday. (Inset) She suffered a gash in her scalp after a stone hit her. DH/Irshad Mahammad

More than 200 people protested outside the offices of the now-defunct IMA Group in central Bengaluru on Sunday, demanding the return of the money they had invested in the so-called Halal investment company. 

The demonstration sent the police in a tizzy as the model code of conduct is in force in the area for the December 5 bypolls to the Shivajinagar assembly constituency. The code prohibits all kinds of protests. 

Police asked the protesters, most of them Burqa-clad Muslim women, to leave the place. But the protesters refused to budge and sat in the middle of the road. They kept raising slogans against the IMA Group’s jailed founder, Mohammed Mansoor Khan. 

The demonstration almost got out of hand when someone threw stones at the protesters, leaving a woman with a deep gash in her scalp. The woman, identified as Mumtaz, started to bleed and had to be taken to the nearby Bowring Hospital. 

Police then mildly caned the protesters and detained some of them. Reinforcements quickly arrived and cordoned the area. 

A senior police officer said the sudden protest was the result of a widely shared WhatsApp message that asked people to gather outside the IMA offices at 5 pm on Sunday and get their money back. Police have opened a case against the person who circulated the message. 

“We are checking the call detail record and social media messages to identify the culprit,” the officer added. 

The protest assumes significance because R Roshan Baig, the disqualified MLA from Shivajinagar, was said to be close to the IMA founder. Many IMA investors say Baig shielded the IMA Group and have demanded his arrest. Police had detained the former legislator but let him go later. 

Baig quit the Congress party and resigned as an MLA, citing differences with the party leadership. He was said to be seeking the BJP ticket but the party didn’t field him. 

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