Cleanliness Drive
Dalits marched on October 9, was Kanaka Nade in response to that?
Image: Kanaka Nade, Karthik Bhat/ Facebook

Infuriating Dalit activists and defying a police ban, members of 'Yuva Brigade' conducted 'Kanaka Nade', a cleanliness campaign, on the premises of the Pejawar Krishna Math in Udupi

The campaign was proposed to be held at few places inside Udupi town, but with police declining permission, it was restricted to the math’s premises.

The Yuva Brigade’s programme was inaugurated by 86-year-old seer of the Pejawar mutt, Vishwesha Tirtha Swami, who was part of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. Members of the brigade cleaned the math’s goshala, rajangana and parking area.

The campaign became controversial after members of the Yuva Brigade lead by writer Chakravarthi Sulibele implied that they would clean roads of Udupi polluted by ‘Chalo Udupi’ campaign by Dalit groups on October 9. Chakravarti Sulibele had projected it as an "alternative" / "counter" to the Chalo Udupi march. 

Image: Pejawar seer, Balaji Mysore/Facebook

Kanakadasa was a poet and philosopher who is believed to have sat outside the Krishna mutt and prayed to Krisha's idol for many weeks, after he was denied permission to go inside the temple for being person from a lower caste. According to the story, moved by his devotion, the idol is said to have turned around to face him, creating a crack on the wall through which the bhakt was allowed to see his lord.

Incensed by Yuva Brigade’s statements that progressive groups had “polluted” the city, the Dalit-Damanitara Swabhimani Horata Samiti asked the district administration not to give permission to the event. The Samiti in its memorandum to the police had said that allowing the ‘Kanaka Nade’ campaign would be equal to encouraging untouchability.

The members of Dalit Damanitara Swabhimani Horata Samiti (DDHSS) said that if the Yuva Brigade went ahead with their campaign, they would conduct a ‘Swabhimani Nade’.

High police security around the Mutt

In the second week of October, the Pejawar seer had expressed his displeasure at associating ‘Kanana Nade’ with ‘Chalo Udupi’ campaign and said that Yuva Brigade had approached him in January itself with a plan to clean the math premises.

“This cleanliness campaign had been decided many months ago. This was a voluntary initiative of the Kanaka Nade workers and I had not directed them to do it,” The Hindu quoted him.

District Commissioner T Venkatesh denied permission for both campaigns in the interests of maintaining law and order.

 Member of the DDHSS, Bhaskar Prasad told The News Minute that they would file a complaint against district authorities.

“The police were not able to stop them, they should also be held guilty of promoting untouchability. The district administration had denied permission to both the campaigns regardless of whether it was conducted in a public or private area,” he said.

Superintendent of police KT Balakrishna told The News Minute that the police can book cases against the organisers of ‘Kanaka Nade’ if it had been conducted on public or government property.

“We were told that the campaign took place despite the ban. Before taking any action we have to check if they had conducted it in public areas. The Kanaka Nade organisers had asked for the permission on certain roads, which the district authorities denied.  We also learnt that the Tahsildar was present at Krishna Mutt while this happened.”