The arrest of a Karsevak has created a controversy in Karnataka, enraged by which, the Bharatiya Janata Party has launched a statewide campaign, ‘Nanu Karasevaka, Arrest Madi Nanna’ (I’m also a Karsevak, Arrest Me Too), on Thursday. The state government has said that the arrest was part of a routine process to track the accused in old cases.
Stepping up its protests in various parts of the state, MLA and former minister V Sunil Kumar, amidst a demonstration in front of Sadashivanagar police station, led the campaign in the state capital, Bangalore. “I also undertook kar seva. I too participated in the Ram temple agitation of December 6, 1992”, he said while talking to reporters.
The campaign came as a part of intensifying its protests in support of a Hindutva activist in connection with the 31-year-old case related to the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation. The activist, identified as Srikanth Poojari, was arrested by police in the Hubballi district of north Karnataka on Monday, under charges of rioting in a case registered in December 1992.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has described Poojari as a “social miscreant” and “criminal suspect”. He also said that Poojari is facing allegations of involvement in 16 anti-social activities, including illegal liquor sales, gambling and matka.
Kumar claimed that he was involved in over 27 cases, including those related to the Ram Mandir movement. “As a politician, I have 27 cases against me, will that make me a criminal?” he questioned.
“The government is trying to intimidate the Hindus, by reopening the cases against Karsevaks,” he said, accusing the ruling Congress of “patronizing anti-nationals, while only Ram Bhakts are being called criminals.”
Speaking to the reporters, Kumar said that the campaign had been launched to condemn the “anti-Ram and anti-Hindu policies” of the Congress government, accusing them of “appeasement politics”.
“BJP is committed to Lord Ram and to protect Ram mandir. The Congress has always believed in appeasement politics,” Kumar said.
Denouncing the Siddaramaiah government, the opposition BJP has accused them of being harsh on Hindus and engaging in minority appeasement.
“Congress leaders are writing letters to the government to release the accused persons of KJ Halli and DJ Halli riot cases,” Kumar alleged.
He also challenged the Congress government saying that he would produce a list of all ‘Kar Sevaks’ in the state, and arrest them if the government had the power. The BJP is accused of politicizing the matter by the Congress.
Sadashivanagar police station’s police officer said that Sunil Kumar was taken into preventive custody and was released after about two hours on Thursday.
Moreover, the protests in other districts’ headquarters in Shimoga and Chikmagalur, were led by senior BJP leaders K S Eshwarappa and C T Ravi respectively. Leader of Opposition, R Ashok spoke in support of this campaign saying, that many including Narendra Modi are also KarsevakS.
“How many people can you arrest? Open all jails in Karnataka. Millions of Ram devotees are ready to protest,” he said.
The arrest was condemned by Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy too. CM Siddaramaiah had earlier lashed out at the BJP for protesting in support of Poojari on Wednesday saying, “The Congress government is becoming more popular day by day. Out of desperation, BJP leaders are rallying around a criminal suspect.”