BJP’s Vel Yatra Resumes Without Permission, Causing Traffic Snarls
The yatra is intended to resume from Vadivudai Amman temple in Tiruvottriyur, Chennai.
On Friday, the BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit chief L Murugan and cadre were detained by the local police for kickstarting the Vetri Vel Yatra despite being denied permission to do so.
On Sunday, 8 November, the party decided to resume the yatra as per the schedule – still with no approval from the authorities.
The party members are expected to visit Vadivudai Amman temple in Tiruvottriyur, Chennai to offer prayers. Murugan, along with a few leaders and over 200 cadre traveled by car and foot causing a lot of traffic snarls and chaos on the roads.
Vetri Vel Yatra is a month-long rally, visiting six abodes of Lord Muruga which was scheduled to begin from 6 November to 6 December, from Tiruttani temple to Tiruchendur temple in Tamil Nadu.
The yatra is seen as an attempt by the BJP to consolidate Hindu votes in the state ahead of the Assembly elections in 2021.
On Friday and Sunday, several participants in the group were seen not wearing masks and violating social distancing rules.
Permission: Still Denied
On Thursday, the Tamil Nadu government, ruled by AIADMK, denied permission for the procession in view of the coronavirus pandemic and in the interest of the people of the state.
Several public interest litigation petitions have been filed in the Madras High Court against the yatra, raising the issue that the procession poses as a risk in increasing the spread of COVID-19 besides creating law and order problems.
Approval Still Awaited from Court, Police
During a special sitting for the hearing of an urgent writ petition moved by the BJP on Saturday, the party state general secretary K Nagarajan told the Madras High Court, that only 30 persons in 15 cars will participate in the yatra and that the travel will be wound up much before 6 December, the Babri Masjid demolition anniversary.
The petition filed by Tamil Nadu BJP General Secretary K Nagarajan claimed that the state government had no powers to prevent religious gatherings outside of containment zones, especially when the centre had permitted religious congregations of over 100 persons from 15 October subject to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the state.
The advocate representing the party told the judges that a fresh representation will be made to the police on Sunday, which will make sure there are no objections in granting permission.
While one judge asked why BJP had to choose an elaborate route that doesn’t just cover only the temples, Justice Hemalatha asked the state government why they were opposing the yatra when thousands of devotees were allowed at temples.
The Advocate-General Vijay Narayan clarified that this was not a mere visit but could gather huge crowds which is a bad idea during a pandemic. The Bench granted time till Tuesday for the petitioner to file an additional affidavit with all details, however the party decided to go ahead nevertheless.
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