Hordes of BJP workers gathered at Freedom Park in Bengaluru to begin their procession.
Bengaluru: More than 1,900 BJP workers were detained by Karnataka police today after they started a bike rally from Bangaluru to for Mangaluru despite being effused permission. The Mangaluru Chalo rally, the BJP said, was meant to draw attention to killings of right-wing workers in communally sensitive areas. The ruling Congress says the rally would raise communal tensions in the state ahead of the assembly elections which will be held by the end of the year. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the BJP should instead do a "Delhi Chalo" rally to carry the farmers' woes to the Centre.
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The Mangaluru Chalo rally, the BJP said, is a protest against the killing of 12 men belonging to the party, its ideological mentor RSS and the right-wing VHP.
Claiming the men were killed over the last few years by members of organisations like Popular front of India and Karnataka Forum for Dignity, the BJP has sought a central probe into the deaths.
Calling it divisive politics, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said, "Instead of doing Mangaluru Chalo, let them do a 'Delhi Chalo' demanding waiver of farmers' loan". The Congress attributes the BJP's rally plan to the recent visit of Party president Amit Shah to the state.
This morning, hordes of BJP workers had gathered at Freedom Park in the heart of Bengaluru to begin the three-day procession.
The state deployed the Rapid Action Force in full riot gear, who soon detained the men. Bikers from others cities who were trying to head for Mangaluru were also blocked by the police.
The Mangaluru Chalo rally was meant to be a mega congregation of thousands of workers from across the state -- including cities like Bengaluru, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru, Mysuru and Hubli - who were to reach the coastal city on bikes.
Last evening, senior BJP leaders met Karnataka's Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy to seek clearance for the event which was being organised by the party's youth wing.
The state government warned that any effort to have a rally in the communally sensitive coastal areas will be strongly discouraged. At any cost, law and order cannot be distributed in the area, the government said.
Mangaluru and the coastal districts near it have witnessed repeated Hindu-Muslim tension linked to violence between members of the RSS and Muslim-majority parties like the Social Democratic Party of India.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who visited Karnataka last month, had allegedly pulled up the party's senior leaders for failing to highlight the attacks on workers ahead of the state election.