The Mangaluru city on police on Sunday, 19 September, arrested three right-wing activists for issuing threats to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders from Karnataka over a court-monitored drive to demolish or relocate illegal structures built on government land in the state, Hindustan Times reported.
During a press conference called by the Hindu Mahasabha on Saturday, 18 September, one of the right-wing activists, Dharmendra Surathkal, had targeted Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, former CM BS Yediyurappa and state Muzrai Minister Shashikala Jolle over the demolition of a temple in Mysuru’s Nanjangud area on 10 September, reported The Indian Express.
“When we didn’t spare Mahatma Gandhi and killed him to protect Hindus, do you think we will spare you?” Surathkal had said.
The Mangaluru city police commissioner, N Shashi Kumar, on Sunday, said the police arrested three people — Surathkal, along with Rajesh Pavitran and Prem Polali — after a complaint was filed by Hindu Mahasabha state president L K Suvarna.
“At the moment, three people have been taken into custody, including Dharmendra (the main accused), and an inquiry is being conducted,” he was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
Referring to the complaint by Suvarna, Kumar said, “People who were removed from the group are claiming to be part of the outfit even today and indulging in illegal activities.”
The police booked the accused 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 Indian Express reported.
In 2010, the Supreme Court had ordered the “removal of all illegal structures built after 29 September 2009 in public places”. The Karnataka government is implementing the same, which is being monitored by the Karnataka High Court.
The demolition of the temple in Nanjangud had caused a political commotion in the state, with several political and religious leaders speaking out against the demolitions.
Former CM and Congress leader Siddaramaiah blamed the BJP for hurting Hindu sentiments. “The BJP government is responsible for this act against Hindu sentiments. Alternate arrangements should be made immediately to restore,” Siddaramaiah had tweeted on 11 September.
Meanwhile, Mysore MP and BJP leader Prathap Simha said that only temples were being targeted, reported the daily. Hindu groups also held protests against the BJP government in Mysuru and Mangaluru.
After the adverse reactions, CM Bommai ordered a halt to the demolitions last week, saying that his government ‘will examine the court orders and issue fresh directives to the districts’.
In July, the state chief secretary had said that there were 6,395 illegal religious structures in the state.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and Hindustan Times)