The Mangaluru Chalo bike rally organised by the State unit of Bharatiya Janata Party was aborted minutes after it was flagged off in Bengaluru on Tuesday morning.
High drama ensued as over 200 bike riders who successfully reached Freedom Park in the city, despite severe nakabandi on all roads leading to it, went ahead with the bike rally. The police dragged out the activists and seized the bikes. Over 500 activists including former Home Minister R. Ashoka, Shobha Karandlaje and Mysuru MP and BJP Yuva morcha president Pratap Simha were taken into preventive custody by the police.
There was tension as Mr. Ashoka and Mr. Simha staged a last minute rasta roko, blocking traffic on the busy Sheshadri Road causing traffic pile up, protesting arrests by the police. The leaders argued that the police had no powers to arrest them as there was no prohibitory orders in force in the area. The two leaders had to be physically dragged out and detained.
Earlier in the day, city police had put up a strict vigil around the city detaining BJP activists coming on bikes. City police commissioner T. Suneel Kumar had on Monday night imposed a ban on any bike rally in the city under section 35(3) of CrPC. Police detained hundreds of BJP workers and seized their bikes at Town Hall, Minerva Circle, Silk Board, Basavanagudi, K.R. Puram and other areas where activists took out a bike rally under the leadership of the local MLA and councillors from BJP. Tight security
Mr. Ashoka took strong objection to the clamp down on the bike rally and compared Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin for the same. “The clamp down clearly shows that the State government is terrified of the BJP’s support and organisation in the state,” he said.
The former Home Minister said that the Siddaramaiah government was directly supporting ‘terror outfits’ like SDPI and PFI in the State for vote bank politics. “There were 175 cases against over 1600 workers of PFI and SDPI in 2013 when Congress came to power. The first thing Mr. Siddaramaiah did was to withdraw all these cases in 2015. This gave them a moral boost and from 2015, the organisation’s role is clear in at least eight murders of pro-Hindu activists. We demand that all these cases be handed over to NIA,” demanded Mr. Simha.
Reacting to this, Mr. Siddaramaiah at a Teacher’s Day programme said: “The permission for bike rally has been denied considering traffic congestions. We have no objection for them (BJP) conducting a conference,” adding that BJP was attempting to disturb the peace in the society in the name of Hindutva. Instead of a bike rally, they could have taken out a Padayaatre or Delhi Chalo for farmers loan waiver, he said.
The bike rally is being taken out in other parts of the State as well. In Hubballi, the rally is being organised under the leadership of Jagadish Shettar, Pralhad Joshi. However, they are likely to be arrested on the outskirts of the city.
Meanwhile, the Mysuru City Police has not given permission to organise the bike rally on Wednesday and imposes prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC for 48 hours in the City from 6 a.m. on Wednesday.