Union Minister for Coal, Mine and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi on Friday, December 29, criticised the Congress-led Karnataka government over the arrest of Kannada activists in connection with the vandalism and tearing down of English signboards. "The Congress government that vouches for withdrawal of cases related to DJ Halli and KG Halli communal violence has sent Kannada activists to jail. This action of the government is not tenable," he told reporters.
"The Kannada activists' protest is rightful. The state government had clamped down on all sections of Kannada activists so that they would never dare to stage a protest. The rioters in KG Halli violence were all set to kill policemen. The charge sheet mentions this. The state government should set aside its dual agenda and release Kannada activists," he added.
At least 53 people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the violence and vandalism during a protest in Bengaluru on December 27 that saw the removal and tearing down of English signboards from commercial outlets with a demand to give prominence to Kannada.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday said that he felt "pained" following the arrest of Kannada Rakshana Vedike chief TA Narayana Gowda and others. Bommai said that when he was the Chief Minister, he had ordered the withdrawal of over 2,000 cases filed against Kannada activists.
"The current situation is because of not having any strict rule on Kannada on the signboards. Our [previous] government brought a bill for the implementation of Kannada. It is a matter of sadness that they need to invoke law for the mandatory implementation of Kannada in Karnataka even after 75 years of Independence,” Bommai said.
"The Kannada activists are holding a stir over the non-implementation of the rule... and the agitations were not held where Kannada language is displayed on signboards. Protests are happening in places where the rules were not brought into force," he added.