Updated: September 20, 2021 6:53:56 am
The Mangaluru city police on Sunday arrested three right-wing activists for issuing threats to Karnataka BJP leaders over a court-monitored drive to demolish or relocate illegal religious structures in the state.
The arrests come a day after Dharmendra Surathkal, one of the right-wing activists, had in the course of a press conference called by the Hindu Mahasabha targeted Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, former CM B S Yedyiurappa and state Muzrai Minister Shashikala Jolle over the demolition drive, which saw the demolition of a temple in Mysuru’s Nanjangud area on September 10.
“When we didn’t spare Mahatma Gandhi and killed him to protect Hindus, do you think we will spare you?” Surathkal had stated.
On Sunday, Mangaluru city police commissioner N Shashi Kumar said the three arrested — Surathkal, along with Rajesh Pavitran and Prem Polali —were arrested on the basis of a complaint filed by Hindu Mahasabha state president L K Suvarna.
The accused have been booked under IPC Section 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 153(A) (promoting enmity), 505 (2) (public mischief), 506 (criminal intimidation), 465 (forgery), and 149 (unlawful assembly).
The Karnataka government has been implementing a 2010 Supreme Court order for the removal of all illegal structures built after September 29, 2009 in public places. The implementation of the court order is being monitored by the Karnataka High Court, with regular hearings on the status of compliance.
However, the demolition of the Nanjangud temple has caused a political furore in the state, with several political and religious leaders opposing the demolitions.
Former CM and Congress leader Siddaramaiah questioned the BJP’s commitment to Hindus and blamed the state government for carrying out the demolition without consulting locals. “The BJP government is responsible for this act against Hindu sentiments. Alternate arrangements should be made immediately to restore,” Siddaramaiah tweeted on September 11. Mysore MP
and BJP leader Prathap Simha, meanwhile, claimed that only temples were being targeted.
Hindu groups also staged protests against the BJP government in places like Mysuru and Mangaluru.
Following the adverse reactions, CM Bommai last week called a halt to the demolitions and said that his government will examine the court orders and issue fresh directives to the districts. The state government also issued a notice to district officials in Mysuru.
In July this year, the state chief secretary had written to all districts, saying there were 6,395 illegal religious structures in the state. In some districts like Hassan, where nearly 112 illegal structures have been reported, over 80 per cent have been cleared, according to the state government.
In a High Court hearing on August 12, civic officials in Bengaluru informed the court that only five of the 382 illegal structures in the city had been demolished, while none of the 105 meant to be relocated have been relocated.
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