Karnataka Congress Chief, Others Booked For Violating COVID-19 Norms During Mekedatu Padayatra
The balancing reservoir project was mooted by the Karnataka government to utilise the state's share of Cauvery water to meet the drinking water needs of Bengaluru and neighbouring districts.
Ramanagara: Another FIR was registered against 40 Congress leaders in Karnataka, including its state President DK Shivakumar on Tuesday for violating the COVID-19 curbs, as the party’s ‘padayatra’ demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project across the Cauvery river entered its third day. The FIR was registered at the Sathanoor police station against the Congress leader, for defying restrictions on Monday, when a large number of party workers marched a distance of about 15 km from Shivakumar’s native Doddalahalli to Kanakapura.
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Shivakumar’s brother and Bengaluru Rural MP DK Suresh, former Ministers Krishna Byre Gowda, H Anjaneya, and party leaders like- Narayanaswamy, Motamma, P T Parameshwara Naik, Dhruvanarayana, among other leader were also mentioned in the FIR. The leaders are booked for violation of guidelines, gathering in huge numbers, without wearing masks and maintaining social distance, under the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act and sections of Indian Penal Code.
Despites the FIR, Congress’ 10-day long padayatra, demanding for implementation of Mekedatu project, to which neighbouring Tamil Nadu is opposed to, continued for the third day today for a distance of about 14.3 km from Kanakapura to Chikkenahalli, with participation of hundreds of party workers and supporters. The padayatra spanning a distance of nearly 139 km is scheduled to conclude at Basavanagudi in Bengaluru on January 19.
The first FIR filed aganist Congress leaders was filed on Sunday at the same Sathanoor police station, in which 30 people including Shivakumar, Suresh, Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Siddaramaiah, former Union Minister Veerappa Moily, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, former Deputy CM G Parameshwara, among others were named.
Congress Claims FIRs Frustrated Attempts Of BJP To Silence The Issue
Alleging that the BJP government was making frustrated attempts to scuttle the padayatra, fearing political gain for the Congress party, Siddaramaiah earlier today asserted that they will go ahead with it as planned. “They (govt) have booked cases against 30 of us and they may book more cases. We will not fear cases, if they feel they can scare us by filing cases, we can call this BJP government a foolish government…we will fight it legally,” he said.
BJP Threatens of Action
With the Congress moving ahead with its ‘walk for water’ demanding a balancing reservoir across the Cauvery river in Mekedatu in Ramanagara district amid rising COVID cases, Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra earlier today said the state government will take appropriate action at an appropriate time. “We will take an appropriate action at an appropriate time. It’s not that we are letting them go. We are taking action. We are registering cases,” Jnanendra said while briefing reporters on the virtual meeting chaired by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on COVID-19.
The minister alleged that those participating in the ‘Padayatra’ were getting infected while many did not get themselves tested despite symptoms. To a query why the government permitted the Congress and let them continue with their march, Jnanendra said there was no permission given to them.
He, however, ruled out appealing to the Congress to withdraw its march. “We haven’t thought of appealing to them. They have to make up their mind and stop the padayatra,” the minister said.
To a query on what has been done in the last two-and-half years, Jnanendra said the BJP government got the stay vacated in July. “Just when we did almost everything (for Mekedatu project), these people took out the padayatra,” the minister said.
Hitting out at the Congress, the minister said the project is a sensitive issue with a bearing on the interstate relationship between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “It’s a sensitive issue. Tamil Nadu will not sit idle. By taking out padayatra, the Congress has attempted to scuttle the project,” Jnanendra alleged.
Tussel over Mekedatu project with Tamil Nadu
The balancing reservoir project was mooted by the Karnataka government to utilise the state’s share of Cauvery water to meet the drinking water needs of Bengaluru and neighbouring districts. However, the Tamil Nadu government is opposed to the project saying that it will hurt the interests of their state, especially farmers.
(With PTI Inputs)