TN BJP files plea in Madras HC seeking permission to conduct Vel Yatra

On November 6, Thiruvallur police arrested senior BJP leaders for proceeding with the yatra without permission.
Vel Yatra BJP
Vel Yatra BJP
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Tamil Nadu BJP, on Saturday, filed a petition with the Madras High Court, seeking urgent hearing of a plea demanding permission to conduct Vel Yatra in Tamil Nadu. BJP had scheduled a statewide Vel Yatra led by its State President L Murugan from November 6 to December 6. Calling the state government’s ban on conducting Vel Yatra illegal, incompetent, unconstitutional, without jurisdiction and in violation to the fundamental rights, the state unit of the BJP sought court permission to conduct the yatra from November 8 to December 6.

The petition, filed by Tamil Nadu BJP General Secretary K Nagarajan, claimed that the state government has no powers to prevent religious gatherings outside of containment zones, especially when the union government had permitted religious congregations of over 100 persons from October 15, 2020 subject to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the state governments. The government of Tamil Nadu has permitted religious congregations with an upper ceiling of 100 persons from November 16. 

The government of Tamil Nadu had denied permission for Vel Yatra in the state and the Madras high court had also ordered that the state government had rights to pass orders in this regard. The court had also stated that parties aggrieved by its orders can file further petitions with it. On November 6, despite the refusal of permission, a BJP delegation led by L Murugan visited Tiruttani Murugan temple and attempted to proceed with the yatra. However, they were stopped and arrested by the Thiruvallur police, thus stopping the yatra at Tiruttani.

The Vel Yatra is the BJP's reply to what it calls anti-Hindu politics in Tamil Nadu. The plan was to hold a Vel and visit six abodes of popular deity Lord Muruga.

The petitioner also said that the state government cannot prevent worshipers from going to temple after the temples have been opened up across the state. The petition also explained the concept of Vel Yatra planned by BJP -- While L Murugan will be moving from one district to another, other accompanying vehicles will stop at the district borders. Murugan’s vehicle will be joined by a new set of vehicles in every district, thus not engaging in inter-district movement of vehicles.

“It is pertinent to note that the request made for Vel Yatra is movement of the participant from one temple to the other. Nobody can have an objection and even the permission is needless,” the petition added. Calling the yatra a ‘movement of yatra in real sense’ and not a congregation, the petitioner also claimed that the permission requested will not attract any of the restrictions imposed by the state. 

In the petition, Nagarajan also stated that the state government and the police have the powers only to regulate and not curtail the fundamental rights of the citizens. Pointing out that the state ministers and other senior officials have been travelling across the state and holding functions, the petition said, “Specifically, they have reported that spread of COVID had reduced and the state has almost come to normalcy. I see no reason why a different view has to be taken when it comes to a national party.”

Requesting the court’s intervention at the blanket ban promulgated by the government of Tamil Nadu, Nagarajan sought an order to allow the yatra to be conducted from November 8 to December 6. 

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