BJP workers clash with police after Mangalore Chalo rally
Mangaluru: A few thousand Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers from various parts of Karnataka landed up in the coastal city of Mangaluru on Thursday as part of a controversial rally and, following fiery speeches, clashed with police.
“Wait four months, there are four people waiting to carry the funeral procession of the Congress,” R. Ashok, senior Karnataka BJP leader and former home minister said to thunderous applause at the ‘Mangalore Chalo’ rally.
Other leaders did not hold back either, with Shobha Karandlaje saying the party had workers who would die for it.
For a little over an hour after the aggressive speeches, the crowd clashed with police, threatening to turn violent.
The BJP defied prohibitory orders by various district police authorities to carry out the rally demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into killings of at least 23 workers (since September 2015) of right wing organizations like the Rashtriya Swayam Sangha (RSS), Bajrang Dal and the BJP, among other things, and criticizing the state government over the law and order situation in the state. On Tuesday, anti-Hindutva journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead by unidentified persons in Bengaluru.
With elections barely a year away, Mangaluru-based civil rights groups said that this was a show of strength that could flare up the already tense coastal region of Karnataka, which chief minister Siddaramaiah recently called a laboratory of communal politics.
Treading cautiously, Mangalore police took several anti-social elements into preventive custody. Mangalore police commissioner T.S. Suresh said that they had managed to stop hundreds of motorcyclists from entering the city and avoiding any imminent law and order problems.
Hindus make up around 67%, 24% Muslims and over 8% Christians in Dakshina Kannada district, according to 2011 census data. Eight people died in the 1997 Suratkal riots which started after a vigilante group attacked a Muslim man for being ‘involved’ with a Hindu girl.