MYSURU: Despite a ban on private vehicles, HD Kote MLA Chikkamadu and his supporters forcibly drove into the core area of Bandipur forest to take part in the Belada Kuppe Mahadeshwara Jatra near here on Sunday evening.
In the wake of the prevailing dry condition, the Forest Department had decided not to allow private vehicles into the critical forest to offset any chances of accidental fire. Bandipur houses the highest number of tigers in the country. The MLA had taken the issue to the Legislature session which is underway but found no success.
On Sunday, the department had made arrangements to ferry devotees in KSRTC buses from Yeshwanatapura village outside the forest to the temple, located inside the core forest. Devotees had to park their vehicles before boarding the buses.
When everything was going on smoothly, Chikkamadu came along with around 300 supporters and entered into a heated argument with police and forest staff as they asked them to allow the private vehicles inside.
When the officials refused, the MLA’s supporters removed the barricades erected across the road at Yeshwantpura. Sources said many people also entered the forest from different routes by removing the barricades. Once at the temple, the MLA asked the organisers to go ahead with using a sound system and lights which were banned.
However, Chikkamadu maintained that despite Chief Minister Siddaramaiah directing the CCF to allow devotees to take part in the jatra, local authorities did not allow it.“It was on this aspect that I argued with ACF Paramesh who was at the spot. I have only followed the instructions of the chief minister. If it is wrong, I may be arrested,” he said.
ACF Paramesh said they received no formal order from the government relaxing the restrictions. “We have followed the Forest Act and it is our duty. The MLA and his supporters have allowed the vehicles to go inside the forest by removing barricades. Police will take further action,” he said.