Several Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party leaders were detained on Tuesday after they set out on “Mangaluru chalo” bike rally organised by the party’s Yuva Morcha in protest against the alleged killings of Hindu activists in the coastal districts.
Among those detained were former deputy chief minister R Ashoka, Lok Sabha member Pratap Simha and MLAs Arvinda Limbavali and Satish Reddy.
Ashoka and other leaders sat in protest near the Freedom Park and demanded that police furnish an arrest warrant, resulting in a heated argument between the officials and the leaders, following which they were frisked away.
The protest and resultant chaos caused traffic snarls around Freedom Park which is located near one of the busiest junctions in the heart of the city, causing inconvenience to commuters.
Police had denied permission for the rally but the BJP insisted they would go ahead with the rally plan.
While the Mangaluru Police denied permission citing reason of maintenance of peace in the communally sensitive coastal districts, the Bengaluru Police prohibited the rally in the city, citing law and order and traffic concerns.
There were similar reports of permission being denied by authorities for the rally and BJP leaders and workers being detained from different parts of the state.
The bike rally by the BJP Yuva Morcha was against the alleged murder of 18 Hindu activists and repeated incidents of violence against them in the coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.
They are also seeking action against organisations like Popular Front of India, which they term as “fundamentalist”, and the resignation of district in-charge minister Ramanath Rai, holding them responsible for the killings.
According to the programme announced by BJP, the rally towards Mangaluru commenced from different places, including Bengaluru and Hubballi, on Tuesday and from Shivamoga, Mysuru and other nearby areas to Mangaluru on September 7.
Senior party leaders, including state unit chief B S Yeddyurappa, are expected take part in the rally at Mangaluru on September 7.
There were reports of police crackdown on BJP workers who were going ahead with the rally in different parts of the state, including Bengaluru, Hubballi, Kalaburgi, Belagavi and Ballari.
BJP leaders have alleged that several party workers were detained by the police in different areas of the state and there were also incidents of lathi-charge on party activists.
Accusing the government of using the police machinery against BJP workers, Ashoka claimed, “This shows the government fears the BJP’s agitation.”
“If the government has the guts they should have allowed us to protest... they are using police against us... it is our right as an opposition party to protest against the government and we will go ahead with our rally,” he said.
With no permission from the police for the rally, a delegation led by Leader of Opposition in Assembly Jagadish Shettar had on Monday met Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy, insisting it should be allowed.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had on Monday said, “We have no objections to do a rally...we have asked police to ensure that there is no disturbance to law and order and public”.
There is heavy deployment of police in Bengaluru and different parts of the state to stop the rally and to maintain law and order, officials said.
Image: Heavy security deployed in view of BJP's Mangaluru Chalo rally in Hubli. Photograph: ANI/Twitter