Violent scenes were witnessed in Shivamogga on Monday, 27 March, when members of the Banjara community reportedly pelted stones at the residence of BJP Parliamentary Board member and former chief minister BS Yediyurappa.
The irate mob hailing from the Scheduled Caste (SC) Banjara community, also known as Lambanis, was opposing the decision of the Basavaraj Bommai government on SC internal reservation. The mob turned violent in front of Yediyurappa’s residence in Shikaripura.
The Bommai government, in its last Cabinet meeting before the Karnataka Assembly election scheduled to be held by May, gave its nod to internal reservation within the SC quota of 17 percent, earmarking six percent reservation for SC Left, 5.5 percent for SC Right, 4.5 percent for “touchables”, and one percent for others.
Banjaras are part of the “touchables” group among SCs.
Incident caught on camera
Windows of Yediyurappa’s residence were damaged in the incident where youngsters were also caught on camera forcefully removing BJP flags atop a building in protest. The police resorted to a baton-charge to rein in the violent protestors.
Yediyurappa and his son BY Vijayendra, who is BJP state vice president, were not in the house when the incident occured.
Four policemen, including two inspectors, sustained injuries in the protest, police personnel said. They were moved to the local hospital for medical care.
Shivamogga SP Mithun Kumar soon reached the spot and took stock of the situation.
The police are filing cases against the protestors on the charges of deterring a public servant from discharging his duty. However, no complaint has been filed by Yediyurappa or his family members about the incident, local police told South First.
Banjara community members’ protest against @BSBommai government’s decision on SC internal reservation turns violent.
— South First (@TheSouthfirst) March 27, 2023
Shivamogga Additional SP Anil Kumar Bhumareddy told South First: “The crowd has been pacified and the situation is under control. We have not yet imposed CrPC Section 144 in Shikaripura town.”
“A total of four policemen have sustained injuries in the incident. We are filing a case against the protestors and have not received any complaint on this. We have not made any arrests connected to the case,” stated ASP Bhumareddy.
The district police have enhanced the security around Yediyurappa’s house.
Don’t take action, BSY tells adminsitration
Reacting to the incident, Yediyurappa told reporters: “As soon as the incident came to my notice, I spoke with local DC and SP over the phone. I have insisted not to take any action against the protestors and sort out the matter peacefully.”
“I believe that this incident has occurred due to a misconception among the Banjaras. I have done a lot of development work, including setting-up the Banjara Development Board for the growth of the community.”
“I will hold talks with senior leaders of the Banjara community and discuss why this incident took place. Vijayendra and I are ready to discuss all issues of Banjaras. I will give justice to the Banjaras,” assured the former chief minister.
He also said that if there are any loopholes in the internal reservations issue, then it would be sorted out.
BSY appeals to Banjaras
“I have also appealed to the people of the community to behave peacefully. I will meet the agitators and discuss the issues with them. The members of the community can meet the chief minister anytime and discuss their grievances.”
“I was hurt by the incident. I have asked the police not to arrest anyone. I would not like to comment on the people that are behind this act. Shikaripura is known for peace and tranquillity. I appeal to everyone to maintain law and order and peace in the town,” appealed Yediyurappa.
He also urged the ruling party (BJP) members not to blame any party for the incident. Earlier, Chief Minister Bommai and Union Minister A Narayanaswamy blamed the grand old party for the incident.
CM Bommai blames Congress
Chief Minister Bommai blamed the Congress for the incident and accused the party of instigating the Banjaras to stage a protest in front of Yediyurappa’s residence.
Holding the Opposition party responsible, Bommai said: “The protest was instigated by local Congress leaders. The grand old party is responsible for this act by the Banjaras as they are provoking and misleading the community.”
“They are not able to digest the fact that the BJP is giving social justice to everyone. I urge the Banjaras not to fall prey to this. The BJP is protecting the interests of the community. I condemn this act and it is being done for political benefit,” the chief minister said.
“It is the Congress that is causing animosity between communities. AICC general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala should say who is behind this,” Bommai told reporters in Chikkaballapur.
“The Banjara community is under the misconception that the government is implementing the internal reservations as per the recommendations of the Justice AJ Sadashiva Commission.”
“I want to make it clear to the Banjara community that the internal reservation is being implemented as per the reports of the Cabinet sub-committee. They also fear that they would be removed from the SC/ST list.”
“Bhovi, Banjara, Koracha and Korama will remain in the SC list and a proposal has also been sent to the Union government. We have also increased their quota from three percent to 4.5 percent. There will be no role of the Sadashiva Commission in this,” stated Bommai.
“There is no confusion in internal reservations. Our government will protect the interests of Banjara and other castes. We have also given over two lakh title deeds to Banjaras.”
Bommai is fooling SC/STs: MLC Rathod
Karnataka Legislative Council, Opposition Chief Whip Prakash Rathod denied the Congress party had any role in the Banjara protest at Shikaripura.
MLC Rathod told South First: “The chief minister is lying to the people of Karnataka. Why should Congress protest? There is no role of Congress in this protest. Banjaras have reacted spontaneously after they came to know that the government is implementing the internal reservations and Sadashiva Commission report.”
“Yediyurappa is neither a chief minister nor he will be contesting in the Assembly polls. There is no valid reason for the chief minister to make allegations against the Opposition,” fumed Rathod.
“Without taking everyone into confidence and without bringing the Sadashiva Commission report into public domain or discussing it in the House, the government is making an effort to implement the report through the backdoor,” Rathod said.
“On what basis is the BJP government giving reservation to the SC (Left and Right)? The internal reservation is being done unscientifically. This is also the hidden agenda of the BJP and RSS to remove Banjaras, Koracha and other communities from the SC/ST list,” alleged Rathod.
He further said: “Internal reservation is being done as per the whims and fancies of certain communities. Bommai might have thought that Bhovis and Banjaras won’t understand the political gimmicks of the government, but they understand the hidden agenda of the BJP.”
“Bommai is fooling everybody. The Congress has made it clear that it would discuss the Sadashiva Commission report with everyone and then take a final call on internal reservations.
“The government is unconstitutionally and unethically giving away internal reservations. We vehemently oppose this,” Rathod added.