BJP leaders accuse Karnataka Police of turning partisan, raise complaints of ‘double standards’

Approach to 2 protests — one against dropping chapters from textbooks, and other against alleged corruption in Kuvempu University — made BJP suspicious.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Aug 05, 2023 | 1:00 PM Updated Aug 05, 2023 | 2:19 PM

Congress Vs BJP

Is Police Department in Karnataka turning partisan towards its political bosses? BJP leaders from Shivamoga-Sagara insist so, while police maintain that they are only carrying out their duties.

It seems the Karnataka unit of the BJP had “anticipated” this after change of governments in the State and set up a helpline to prevent all “legal atrocities” by the Congress government in the state.

The BJP in the Shivamogga Assembly constituency has accused the police of double standards while dealing with protests, especially after the Congress assumed power in the state.

MLA SN Channabasappa, MLC DS Arun, and other BJP leaders raised the complaint against the police in their separate meetings with the District Collector Dr Selvamani P, and Superintendent of Police GK Mithun Kumar. The politicians cited two recent instances to buttress their argument.

“On 26 July, the Shivamogga district police registered a case suo motu against Yuva Morcha workers who had staged a protest against Education Minister Madhu Bangarappa,” Arun told South First.

“The protest was against excluding chapters on Hindu leaders, including Veer Savarkar and Hedgewar, from the school curriculum,” he added.

Bangarappa was discussing the leaf-spot disease spreading in the district’s areca plantations when a group of Yuva Morcha activists barged into the Zilla Panchayat hall, raised slogans, and waved black flags at the minister.

Stating that those waving black flags were not social activists, the minister advised them to read the textbooks. Soon after the meeting, the Shivamogga police registered a suo motu case against the protesters.

It was alleged that the MLA and other leaders were not allowed to meet the detainees at the police station. Instead, the BJP alleged, they were insulted and sent back.

Also read: Karnataka begins ‘course correction’ on school textbooks

NSUI interrupts Governor’s speech

The BJP said no case was registered when a group of National Students Union of India (NSUI) workers interrupted Governor Thaawar Chand Ghelot’s speech on 22 July.

The Governor was addressing the Kuvempu University’s 33rd Convocation when the student activists reportedly raised slogans and waved black flags, demanding action against the “corrupt” vice-chancellor, Professor BP Veerabhadrappa.

The police rushed into the gallery from where the activists protested and detained them. However, the Governor offered to speak to the representatives of NSUI, the student arm of the Congress. He listened to their grievance and asked them to submit their complaint in writing, promising to look into the matter.

Channabasappa and Arun said the police did not register a suo motu case against the NSUI workers.

“Protests are inevitable in a democracy. The Yuva Morcha workers protested against the education minister, condemning the government’s decision to exclude chapters on Hindu leaders from textbooks,” Arun said.

“If a case can be registered against Yuva Morcha workers, then why were NSUI members spared? This is a dereliction of duty,” he alleged.

Also read: Savarkar flew on bird out of Andaman Jail, says Kannada textbook

Yuva Morcha at fault?

Meanwhile, Collector Dr Selvamani found fault with the Yuva Morcha’s protest. “How they interrupted the minister’s meeting was not right. There is a video of the incident, which makes it clear,” he told South First.

“Coming to the Governor’s incident, he spoke with the protestors later after the convocation and assured them to initiate action based on their written complaint,” he added.

Dr Selvamani assured the MLA and MLC that he would discuss the two incidents with the SP. He further said that if a written complaint was made against the police for insulting elected representatives, it would be investigated. The collector is also the chairman of the district police complaints authority.

Meanwhile, a senior police officer said no black flag or placards were displayed at the Governor’s function.

“There were around five students. They were part of the NSUI and were in the gallery on the first floor. All of them had valid student ID cards and invitations for the convocation,” he told South First.

“However, at the minister’s meeting, around five-six protestors barged into the hall waving black flags, shouting slogans and interrupting the meeting. They were trespassers. They refused to move out even though the SP was on the dais. Hence a case was taken up against them,” he added.

Other incidents

There are other incidents that have convinced the BJP that the police are behaving in a partisan way. Arun said the town police in Sagara taluk summoned a group of gau-rakshaks (cow vigilantes) and warned them not to engage in vigilantism.

“These youngsters, who keep a watch on illegal trafficking of cows and cattle, were called to the police station and warned that they should not do it anymore and if found engaged in such activities, cases will be registered against them,” Arun said.

However, Sagara police sources narrated a different story. They said the self-appointed cow vigilantes were sternly told to not take the law into their hands. They were also told to bring to the police’s notice if any illegal cattle trafficking took place or call 112.

The police also clarified that the cow vigilantes were warned as a preventive measure so that they do attack or hurt people ferrying cattle.

In another instance, the BJP accused Sagara MLA Gopalakrishna Beluru of involving in “police giri“. “The local MLA and his henchmen are getting involved in civil disputes and threatening women staying alone, and accusing them of encroaching land. This is not acceptable,” Arun said.

The MLC also pointed out another instance, which he claimed amounted to police highhandedness.

The police issued an externment notice to the Yuva Morcha’s taluk president Arun Kugwe around 10.30 pm on 28 July, and told him he should not be seen in the taluk after 9.30 am the next day.

“Kugwe, being a Yuva Morcha leader, has some cases against him registered when he protested over social issues, but there are no criminal cases against him at all. Just because he is from the BJP, the police are issuing a notice of exterment for reasons best known to them,” Arun said.