The Karnataka High Court had questioned the state government as to why it allowed the padayatra, and why no appropriate action had been taken.

DK Shivakumar, Siddaramaiah on a truck with several cadre on the ground during the Congress' padayatra
news Politics Thursday, January 13, 2022 - 09:07

The BJP in Karnataka on Wednesday, January 12, issued prohibitory orders on the Mekedatu padayatra being taken out by the Congress in the state. Chief Secretary P Ravikumar issued the order and directed the Congress leaders and the authorities concerned to stop the padayatra with immediate effect. Meanwhile, Ramanagara district has turned into a police fortress as about 4,000 police personnel have landed there in the backdrop of the government's order to stop the padayatra.

In the order, Ravikumar stated, "In the exercise of the powers conferred under the Disaster Management Act, I here by direct that all inter-district (within Karnataka) and intra-district (within Ramanagar district), movement of vehicles and persons for participating in the 'namma neeru namma hakku' (our water our right) padayatra or whichever name it is called with a similar purpose from Mekedatu to Bengaluru is prohibited with immediate effect," the order said.

"The order will be in force till further orders are issued for strict implementation by all Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police and Police Commissioners of the state. The Transport Commissioner is directed to take adequate measures to implement the order and aid the DCs and the police department," the order read.

It further warned that any person violating the order will be liable to face action under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, relevant sections of the IPC and other legal provisions.

Meanwhile, without taking the name of the Congress or its leaders, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said his government is going to initiate the required steps to ensure the safety of the people amid the ongoing COVID crisis.

"All political parties have worked together in the interest of the state when it comes to the question of rights over our land, water and people. Our government is committed to complete the Mekedatu project by taking all political parties into confidence. Presently, the Covid pandemic has hit the state, especially Bengaluru.

“I ask everyone to respect the protocols in place to control the Covid menace. The government is ready to take all possible measures to safeguard the interests of the people of the state," Bommai said.

The order of the state government came on a day when the Karnataka High Court questioned the state government as to why it allowed the Congress' padayatra which is being held in violation of its COVID curbs, and why no appropriate action was taken by the authorities to restrain the march.

It has also asked the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) whether it had obtained permission for the padayatra and whether measures have been taken in compliance with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) prescribed by the government to prevent the COVID-19 spread. The court has asked both the state government as well as the Congress to respond by Friday.

The Congress' 10-day long padayatra demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project, to which neighbouring Tamil Nadu is opposed, continued for the fourth day on Wednesday for a distance of about 15 km from Chikkenahalli to Ramanagara, with participation of hundreds of party workers and supporters.

The padayatra that began on January 9, spanning a distance of nearly 139 km, is scheduled to conclude at Basavanagudi in Bengaluru on January 19. 

Police have already filed three FIRs against Congress leaders including its state president D K Shivakumar and Leader of Opposition in the assembly Siddaramaiah, for taking out the march defying COVID-19 curbs.

Read: ‘How is this allowed amid COVID?’ Karnataka HC questions Congress’s Mekedatu padayatra

Also read: Mekedatu rally amid COVID scare turns into theatre of the absurd in Karnataka

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