AAP accuses Karnataka minister of helping lake encroachers, Limbavali denies

Residents and AAP members who were protesting the encroachment and dumping of waste in a lake in Bengaluru were detained on Sunday.
Junnasandra Lake Protest
Junnasandra Lake Protest
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The Aam Aadmi Party in Bengaluru has alleged highhandedness and apathy on part of the police at the behest of Mahadevapura MLA and Karnataka Forest Minister Aravind Limbavali. This after Bellandur police on Sunday morning detained some demonstrators and forcefully put them in vehicles for allegedly protesting without the necessary permission. The minister’s office has denied any involvement and rubbished the claims.

Some local residents and AAP workers had planned to hold a demonstration demanding corrective action from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) regarding the deplorable condition of Junnasandra lake in their neighbourhood. Spread over 24 acres and 33 guntas, the lake has been encroached upon over the past few years with the tacit support of the local MLA, they claimed.

“There are people who are trying to close the lake and declare it as a land and build infrastructure. We firmly believe this won’t happen without the blessings of MLA Limbavali. He is definitely defending someone which is obvious from the police highhandedness. If he is not associated, why stop the protestors? Why not join them?” Prithvi Reddy, chief of AAP Karnataka unit, told TNM.

"Without taking cognisance of the elderly, children and women, the police brutally pushed people and treated us as if we were classified criminals. Onlookers and passersby were also detained by them until 3.30 pm yesterday," he added.

He said the protesters had intimated the police a week in advance including the jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner of Police and had got a verbal nod for the protest.

Apart from the encroachment, local lake activists say unchecked sewage inflow is also causing a health hazard. Speaking to TNM, a protester who wished to remain anonymous, said, "We and some AAP workers had planned for a peaceful protest. But from 8 am in the morning we witnessed five buses parked by the police at the protest site. We were dragged away even before we could step into the protest site.”

He said that there was no rationale for them to be detained by police as they were only around 30 in number and was not causing any inconvenience to others.

“He (Limbavali) has no connection with the encroachers. He has been making efforts to revive the lakes in his best capacity. The ownership of Junnasandra lake is under trial in the court and if any work is undertaken, it will be seen as contempt of court,” a staffer at the minister's office said.

Meanwhile, Bellandur police said that they had no prior information of the protest and they detained them following due procedure.

"The protesters had not informed the police earlier; they did not get permission and hence we had to evict them. We released them after gathering information," a police official attached to Bellandur Police Station said.

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