The Tamil Nadu police today arrested L Murugan, the state BJP chief, along with around 100 party workers for launching the "Vetri Vel Yatra" (Victorious Spear March), without police permission. The arrest was part of the administration's move to stop the party event.
The state government had informed the Madras High Court on Thursday that the Yatra, planned from November 6 to December 6, won't be allowed given the COVID-19 situation in the state.
The BJP had, however, asserted its right to hold the event starting from the Thiruttani Murugan Temple in Thiruvallur district, adjacent to Chennai.
"I have a right to offer prayers at the temple. To worship is my constitutional right," Mr Murugan had said earlier in the day before heading to the temple and offering prayers there.
At the Chennai-Thiruvallur border, the police stopped the vehicles of the BJP workers, allowing only Mr Murugan and a few others to pass through. The police had said they will detain any BJP leaders or worker associating with the event at Thiruvallur.
The Vetri Vel Yatra is conceptualised in honour of Lord Murugan known for his "Vel" or spear.
December 6, the day the Vel Yatra was scheduled to end at the Thiruchendur Murugan Temple in Thoothukudi district in the southern part of the state, marks the anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, which itself took place at the end of a nationwide Rath Yatra organised by the BJP under senior leader LK Advani.
The BJP had called the Vetri Vel Yatra a mission to expose what it called an "anti-Hindu" narrative and "minority appeasement" in the state.
This is the third time the ruling AIADMK has snubbed its ally, the BJP, after the tie-up ended in a near rout in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In September, the state government denied the BJP permission for idol immersion during Vinyagar Chathurthi celebrations. Recently, the state government issued an executive order ensuring 7.5% reservation for government school students when the BJP-appointed Governor delayed signing a bill for this.