Updated: September 18, 2021 10:25:11 pm
In a reference to the demolition of a temple as part of a drive against illegal religious structures in Karnataka, right wing ‘activist’ Dharmendra Suratkal on Saturday reportedly issued a threat to BJP leaders, saying even “Mahatma Gandhi was not spared in a bid to protect Hindus”.
Speaking at a press conference held at Mangaluru on Saturday, Dharmenda, targeted CM Basavaraj Bommai, former CM B S Yedyiurappa and minister Shashikala Jolle, saying “When we didn’t spare Mahatma Gandhi and killed him to protect Hindus, do you think we will spare you?”
He added, “Temples were demolished by the government in Chitradurga, in Dakshina Kannada and in Mysuru. Hindu outfits launched protests. Who is running the government? If this had happened during the Congress regime, do you think the situation would have been the same? As long as the Hindu Mahasabha is there, we are not going to allow you to demolish Hindu temples.”
He further said, “Can you find similar examples of mosques or churches being demolished? Only temples are being targeted. If our Constitution guarantees us the right to equality, why are only Hindus being targeted?”
The press conference was held to protest against the demolition of unauthorised structures, including temples, in public places.
Mangaluru City Police Commissioner N Shashi Kumar said a complaint has been filed in Mangaluru North PS against Dharmendra. “Dharmendra Suratkal and his other supporters conducted a press conference at Janatha Deluxe Hotel Hall in Mangalore on Saturday. He expressed contentions with the government’s move to demolish illegal religious structures as per the court’s directive. He also warned the government that they did not spare Gandhi and nobody, who is against Hinduism, will be spared. I came to know that Dharmendra was a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha but had been expelled by the body two years ago on grounds of objectionable behaviour.”
Hindu Mahasabha state president L K Suvarna lodged the complaint, the police said.
Cops added that the complaint has been lodged under Section 120(B) (criminal conspiracy), 153(A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc.), 505(2) (statement conducing to public mischief), 506 (criminal intimidation), 465(forgery), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object).
The Supreme Court had ordered the demolition of unauthorised illegal structures in public places built after September 29, 2009. In December 2020, the Karnataka High Court also took the state government to task for not clearing the encroachments from public places.
According to Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar, who sent a letter to deputy commissioners on July 1, there are about 6,395 unauthorised religious structures in public places. Dakshina Kannada has 1,579, followed by Shivamogga (740) and Belagavi (612).
The BJP government has drawn the ire of Hindu outfits after a temple was demolished in Nanjangud in Mysuru district recently. Even Congress leaders had criticised the state government’s move.
Former Karnataka chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah had slammed the BJP government for destroying the temple in Nanjangud without consulting local residents. Yedyiurappa and Union minister Shobha Karandlaje also said that the decision was a “mistake”, and the drive should not have gone ahead.
Facing a strong backlash, the Mysuru later announced the temporary suspension of the drive against illegal religious structures.
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