BENGALURU: The Karnataka police on Tuesday took hundreds of BJP supporters into preventive custody here to stop them from converging in Mangaluru to participate in a big rally scheduled for September 7.
The Mangaluru bike rally is mired in a controversy with police across the state refusing to accord permission to it. The rally has been organised to protest the killing of Hindus in the Mangaluru region, according to the youth wing of the BJP.
At Freedom Park in Bengaluru Tuesday morning, senior BJP leader R Ashok tried to launch the rally by getting on a bike but was stopped by the police. He then lay down on the road in protest, bringing traffic to a halt.
BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa was expected to launch the rally but he decided to proceed directly to Mangaluru on September 7.
Some 2,000 police personnel including six platoons of the state Reserve Police were deployed to handle the start of the procession. They outnumbered the bikers, which BJP leaders said indicated the determination of the government to stop the rally.
Police stopped BJP cadres in other areas of the city too like the Maurya Circle and Anekal. Around 300 people have been taken into preventive custody from Freedom Park alone.
In Hubballi, former chief minister Jagadish Shettar told BJP Yuva Morcha members that the bike rally would be held at any cost.
In Kolar, around 50 BJP workers were taken into preventive custody including BJP MLA Y Sampangi when they attempted to start a rally. Heated altercation took place between police and BJP workers at Bethamangala in Kolar.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah defended the decision the denial of permission for the rally, saying, "Permission for the rally was denied considering traffic congestion. We have no objection to them conducting a conference or a padayatra. Let them have a Delhi Chalo for famer loan waiver," he said.
He also said the BJP was not pro-Hindu and was only trying to disturb the peace in the name of Hindutva. He also warned of stern action if the bikers went ahead with the rally.