Following the arrest of six Kannada activists on Sunday, members of the Karnataka Ranadheera Pade held a protest outside Bengaluru’s Town Hall, demanding their release. The protestors also demanded an apology from BJP MP Tejasvi Surya alleging that he had "unnecessarily communalised" the issue.
Around 150 members of the pro-Kannada outfit accused the police and the state government of registering false cases against the six arrested activists and demanded that the cases be withdrawn immediately. The activists also demanded that BJP MP from Bengaluru South, Tejasvi Surya, tender an apology for “unnecessarily communalizing” the issue.
“The pro-Kannada activists, who protested outside the Jain prayer hall, only did so because the hoardings did not include Kannada. We had no intention of communalizing the issue or making it about religion. We are all Kannadigas from various faiths. Tejasvi Surya called us goons too. So, we demanded an apology,” said KRP secretary Ramanand Ankola.
Six activists belonging to various pro-Kannada outfits were arrested by the Commercial Street Police on Sunday. The activists protested outside Ganesh Bagh, a prayer hall belonging to the Jain community located near Infantry Road in Bengaluru on Friday. The activists protested against the hoarding not including Kannada language.
“See, we held a protest only because the hoardings were all in Hindi. We are in Karnataka and it is mandatory for hoardings to have Kannada in it. We had informed the people who had put up the hoardings that they must include Kannada. Despite the warning, they did not change the hoardings so we tore it and brought it down. Why did the police register a case under 153A (promoting enmity on basis of religion)? We did no such thing. It was the BJP MP who communalized the issue,” Ramanand added. When the vandalism took place, only two security guards were present at Ganesh Bagh.
A video of the six pro-Kannada activists protesting outside Ganesh bagh went viral on Saturday after the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike uploaded it on Facebook. Soon after the video went viral, a member of All India Jain federation Trilok Chand, filed a complaint with the Commercial Street Police station alleging that the pro-Kannada activists were trying to provoke enmity on religious and linguistic grounds.
The Commercial Street police registered an FIR against six persons under sections 153A (promoting enmity on the basis of religion and language), 427 (property damage), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.
On Sunday, the Commercial Street Police arrested Ramesh Gowda T, Daapi Anjanappa, Harish Kumar B, Manjunath M, Chandrasekhar and Madesh Gowda S. The six accused were remanded to 14-day judicial custody. However, after the protests at Town Hall on Monday, they were released on bail.
“Our demand is that Chief Minister Yediyurappa instruct the police to drop the case against the Kannada activists. These are false cases and does not even address the issue at hand,” Ramanand said.