MANGALURU: Three Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) members were arrested for disrupting an Independence Day procession at Kabaka, in Puttur taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, on Sunday. A number of SDPI members had tried to stop the procession, objecting to the inclusion of a portrait of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, along with Mahatma Gandhi and other freedom fighters.
Following this, a verbal altercation broke out between them and the Kabaka gram panchayat members. The SDPI members wanted Savarkar's portrait to be removed, stating that "he was not a freedom fighter and had joined hands with the British". They, instead, wanted that Tipu Sultan be included in the procession as he had fought the British.
A video clip of the protest shows a woman gram panchayat member trying to convince the protesters that Savarkar was also a freedom fighter. The Kabaka GP is ruled by BJP-supported members and has two members from the SDPI.
Athaulla Jokatte, SDPI leader, told TNIE that holding the procession did not figure in the Independence Day preparation meeting. He justified the SDPI protest against Savarkar, and alleged that police arrested their members due to pressure from Puttur MLA Sanjeeva Matandoor.
However, panchayat president Vinaya told The New Indian Express that they had discussed taking out a procession during a recent general meeting, and it was organised to publicise government programmes to locals. The SDPI approached the local police to book the panchayat president and PDO for including Savarkar’s portrait in the procession.
Kabaka PDO Asha filed a complaint against seven people -- Aziz, Naushad, Shamir, Haris, Addu, Tauseef and Shafi -- accusing them of disrupting the procession. Police arrested Aziz, Shamir and Abdul Rahman.