The Tamil Nadu Police Friday detained state BJP chief L Murugan and several party workers for launching the statewide ‘Vel Yatra’ from Chennai despite being refused permission in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, the Tamil Nadu government had informed the Madras High Court that it will not allow the saffron party to hold the statewide yatra. The A-G had cited the pandemic situation and the government order issued against the gathering of the crowd to prevent the spread of infection as reasons for denying permission to the BJP. While the BJP was making big preparations for the planned rally, opposition parties had protested against it.
Murugan, with a Vel (spear) in his hand, proceeded towards Tiruttani this afternoon, where the one-month long yatra was scheduled to begin.
Assuring action against the violators, Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said the government had denied nod to its ally because of the threat of a second wave of infection in the state, and had advised them to cancel the event in the interests of the people.
National secretary CT Ravi, senior leader H Raja, and other BJP functionaries, however, held discussions at Murugan’s residence today and decided to proceed towards Tiruttani.
While speaking to reporters, Murugan said he has the constitutional right to worship, and he will be heading to Tiruttani.
Raja, who was the former national secretary, threatened to hold a statewide agitation if they were stopped. He also questioned the government’s decision to deny permission for the Yatra but allow schools and colleges to reopen amid the pandemic.
At Nazarathpettai on the outskirts of the city, an altercation erupted after police officials stopped the BJP functionaries. The police permitted only five vehicles to proceed towards Tiruttani and asked the remaining workers to return to the city.
Meanwhile, close to 500 police officials were deployed at Tiruttani to monitor the law and order situation. Reports suggested that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has said the law will take its course.
The month-long rally, visiting six abodes of Lord Muruga and modelled on the rath yatra, was scheduled to begin today from Tiruttani temple, in north of Tamil Nadu, and culminate at Tiruchendur temple, in the southern part of the state. The Vel Yatra is seen as an attempt by BJP to consolidate Hindu votes in the state.
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