Former television anchor and Karnataka-based Hindu activist Chaitra Kundapura and five of her associates were sent to a seven-day police custody by a Karnataka court on Thursday. Chaitra, who is known for her fiery hardline Hindutva speeches and is a vocal supporter of the Subramanya Mutt in Sulia, coastal Karnataka, was arrested by police on Wednesday for allegedly assaulting Guruprasad Panja, the Sullia taluk secretary of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike.
Gopal M, a sub-inspector attached to Subramanya Police Station, told TNM that six persons, including Chaitra, assaulted Guruprasad outside his shop near Kashi Katte in the district. The assault occurred after Chaitra had visited the Kukke Subramanya Mutt earlier in the day. Panja was attacked by a steel rod by one of Chaitra’s aide after a verbal altercation escalated between the two Hindu leaders, the police said.
Chaitra was booked by police for assault (IPC 351). Local traders also held a day-long strike in Subramanya protesting the attack against Panja.
Chaitra recently made headlines and earned the praise of BJP leaders, including Shobha Karandlaje, for opposing the September 9 Bharat bandh called by the Congress and other parties over the rising fuel prices.
Panja and Chaitra had been at the loggerheads and had been publicly fighting on Facebook over the issue of conducting a ritual of sarpa samskara (the worshipping of snake god). While Chaitra wanted the ritual to be held at the mutt, Panja, who has his allegiance to the Kukke Subramanya Temple, was in favour of holding the ritual in the temple.
The issue of holding ‘Sarpa Samskara’ had been a contentious issue between the mutt and the temple for close to two weeks now, while the Vidyaprasannateertha Swami, the seer of the Mutt, had announced a hunger strike over the issue.
Even Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had reacted to the incident on October 14 and urged the seer to withdraw the hunger strike and resolve the issue amicably.