Following the arrest of six Kannada activists on Sunday for vandalising a hoarding written in Hindi, the campaign to release them has intensified over the last 24 hours leading to #ReleaseKannadaActivists trending on social media.
The arrests were made after volunteers of pro-Kannada outfits vandalised a hoarding put up outside Ganesh Bagh prayer hall on Friday. Commercial Street police filed an FIR against the activists under sections 153A (promoting enmity on the basis of religion and language), 427 (property damage), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.
Police have arrested Ramesh Gowda T, Daapi Anjanappa, Harish Kumar B, Manjunath M, Chandrasekhar, and Madesh Gowda S on Sunday following the complaint. The accused have been remanded to 14-day judicial custody and an investigation is on.
“The hoarding that was erected by the members of the Jain community outside Ganesh Bagh had content written in Hindi. The hoarding included information regarding Chaturmas, the holy period in which Jains observe fast and penance. A video of Kannada activists vandalising the same came to our notice as it went viral on social media and the case was filed on Sunday after complainants from the community approached us,” a police officer told Indianexpress.com
In the viral video, which was shared across pages of pro-Kannada outfits, a group of activists is seen shouting at security guards at the gate, questioning them “how they could erect such a big hoarding without even a single word in Kannada”.
Later, the group of people is seen destroying the entire hoarding with knives. In the video, the activists are seen raising the question “Yava ooru idu (Which place is this)” to the guards.
According to the FIR, filed by a member of an organisation called Trilok Chand, the activists tried to provoke enmity on religious and linguistic grounds.
Politicians comment on issue, #ReleaseKannadaActivists trend
The matter took a political turn after Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya took to Twitter and condemned the attack, saying, “Assaulting peaceful Jains who contribute to Karnataka brings infamy to genuine Kannada lovers & activists.”
His remark that no one protests over the use of Urdu in Bengaluru irked many and the MP was accused of communalising the issue.
Meanwhile, HD Kumaraswamy requested CM Yediyurappa to withdraw the case against pro-Kannada activists. “Respected Chief Minister, please withdraw the case registered against pro-Kannada activists. You can show your masculinity by convincing the Centre to allocate funds (for flood-relief) required for the state,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has clarified that the government gave utmost priority to safeguard the interests of Kannada and Kannadigas and there would be no compromise in it. “I have equal concern for Kannada and Kannadigas, as for farmers. Well being of the people of the state is my motto”, the CM said in a press release.
Fourth such incident in one month: All India Jain Minority Federation
Meanwhile, the All India Jain Minority Federation has alleged that the incident was not an isolated one. According to Parmesh Jain, a member of the organisation, this was the fourth incident within a month. He further alleged that Kannada activists had been carrying out such activities outside other Jain temples and prayer halls in Vijayanagar, Mysuru Road, and Infantry road.
“While Kannada is mandatory as per the rule only to commercial establishments only, how can a religious hoarding be brought under the purview of that,” he questioned.
Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao has requested citizens not to show “muscle power to hurt sentiments of each other”. He further urged that citizens should refrain from spreading fake messages on social media on the same.
Reacting to the issue, President of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV), T Narayana Gowda alleged that the members of the Jain community did not agree to include Kannada in the hoarding even after requesting them several times.
“The members of the Jain community were adamant that they would not use Kannada in the hoarding at any cost, following which the incident took place. The activists there had no other choice but to bring down the hoarding,” he said, clarifying that all activists at the spot were from other pro-Kannada outfits except one member from KRV.