MANGALURU: BJP chief in Karnataka BS Yeddyurappa and other senior party leaders were detained in the coastal city of Mangaluru today as they attempted to march towards the office of the District Collector. Hundreds of BJP workers converged in the city to hold a mega motorbike rally that the police had denied permission for. The BJP is protesting against the murder of 12 workers in the communally sensitive Dakshina Kannada district.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah should resign if he cannot ensure law and order,” said Mr Yeddyurappa, who is a former chief minister of the state.
R Ashoka, an ex-deputy CM told the BJP workers gathered, “Let’s go to the DC office. If the police says we will arrest you, ask them for a warrant. Yeddyurappa is here, do not worry.” Minutes later they were detained, put in buses and driven away.
More than a thousand policemen including reserve police and the Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed in the city but they were clearly outnumbered as protesters broke barricades and pushed against cops when they were stopped from leaving the Nehru Maidan, a large public ground where they had gathered.
The Mangaluru police had allowed the party to protest at the Nehru Maidan between 11 am and 2 pm today, but had prohibited the bike rally or a protest march through the city.
The BJP has accused Islamist organisations linked to the Social Democratic Party of India for the killing of 12 members of the party, its ideological mentor the RSS and affiliate Vishwa Hindu Parishad in the last two years. It wants an investigation by central agencies CBI or NIA into the killings.
Earlier this week, the Karnataka police had detained almost 2000 BJP workers when they started a bike rally from Bengaluru for Mangaluru despite being refused permission.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has called it “divisive politics” ahead of assembly elections next year and said he feared the ‘Mangaluru Chalo’ Rally would trigger communal tension in the state. Mangaluru and other areas near it have witnessed repeated tension linked to violence between members of the RSS and the Social Democratic Party of India.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who visited Karnataka last month, had allegedly pulled up the party’s senior leaders for failing to highlight the attacks on workers.
Karnataka will vote next year and the BJP hopes to wrest back the only southern state it has ruled from the Congress.