High drama as cops try to arrest MLA Poonja from home 

At around 7 pm, the cops left the venue after serving a notice to the MLA and following assurance from Kateel that he will send Poonja to the police station.
Police and supporters of MLA Harish Poonja gather outside the residence of the legislator at Gardadi in Belthangady taluk in Dakshina Kannada, on Wednesday
Police and supporters of MLA Harish Poonja gather outside the residence of the legislator at Gardadi in Belthangady taluk in Dakshina Kannada, on Wednesday

MANGALURU: High drama prevailed at the residence of BJP MLA Harish Poonja at Gardadi in Belthangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada on Wednesday when the police reportedly went to arrest him for allegedly threatening the cops over the arrest of a BJP worker in an illegal stone quarry case. A police team led by DySP Arun Nagegowda arrived at the MLA’s house at around 10 am. As the news spread, a large number of BJP leaders and workers gathered at the spot to express solidarity with the MLA. 

An advocate representing Poonja said when they questioned the purpose of the police visit, they were told that they had only come to take the MLA to the police station for questioning. But he said they objected to it, stating that, as per CrpC Section 41, the police can only issue notice to the accused and cannot take him to the police station for questioning.Referring to the IPC sections under which the MLA is booked, the advocate said the charges attract less than seven years of imprisonment, and there are guidelines to police from the Supreme Court on how to proceed in such cases.

BJP leaders, including MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, MLAs D Vedavyas Kamath and Bhagirathi Marulya, and BJP Lok Sabha candidate Capt. Brijesh Chowta, who were at the spot, condemned the police action and even threatened to give a call for a Dakshina Kannada bandh if the MLA is arrested.

Harish Poonja
Harish Poonja

Later in the day, the district police maintained that the police had been to the MLA’s house only to bring him to the police station for questioning.

At around 7 pm, the cops left the venue after serving a notice to the MLA and following assurance from Kateel that he will send Poonja to the police station. The notice said Poonja is booked under IPC Sections 143, 147, 341, 504, 506, and 149, and he should appear for questioning before Belthangady police inspector BG Subbapurmath without any delay. Later, Poonja appeared before the Belthangady police at 9.30pm. He was still in the police station at the time of this paper going to the press.

On Sunday, the police arrested Shashiraj Shetty, taluk BJP Yuva Morcha president, after the Belthangady tahsildar raided an illegal stone quarry. On that night, Poonja allegedly created a ruckus in the police station by abusing and threatening the police. On Monday, police booked a case against the MLA.  BJP held a protest in Belthangady on Tuesday, during which Poonja allegedly said he would hold the cops by their collars if they touched BJP workers and warned of a repeat of the DJ Halli and KJ Halli incident, following which the cops had booked another case against him.

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