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Coordination panel will decide on Shoba Yatra, maintains BJP

Special Correspondent

Courts have not banned the yatra, declares Sadananda Gowda



D.V. Sadananda Gowda

Bangalore: The State unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is pinning its hopes on getting the Shoba Yatra cleared by the coordination committee of the ruling coalition partners (the Janata Dal-Secular and the BJP). The yatra is to be held on December 3 at Bababudangiri in Chikmagalur district.

State BJP president D.V. Sadananda Gowda told The Hindu that the controversial issue would be decided "sitting across the table" with the JD(S) and clarified that there was no court order banning the Shoba Yatra. "It is a media interpretation. The issue pertains to maintaining law and order, and I believe that will be so."

The Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court have said that only rituals that were performed before 1975 should be permitted. For the BJP, it is a Catch-22 situation, as there is pressure from a section of its legislators and party workers to go ahead with the yatra and its coalition partner is worried about its "secular credentials" being eroded by allowing the same.

Minister for Higher Education D.H. Shankaramurthy was asked when the coordination committee would take up the issue. "The yatra is two months away, and the media seems to be in a hurry. We will sort out the issue with our partners in the coordination committee," he said.

Stating that he had not read what Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy had said in Mysore on banning the yatra, Mr. Shankaramurthy said, "I have heard about it, but we will sit and finalise how to go about it."

However, there is growing unease with concerns that the yatra will fan communal tension.

Processions banned

Chikmagalur Correspondent writes:

Nilay Mitash, District Magistrate and Deputy Commissioner of Chikmagalur district, has announced that all processions and public meetings will be banned in a 5-km radius of Chikmagalur town and in a 2-km radius of all other municipalities and town panchayats in the district.

Mr. Mitash told presspersons here on Tuesday said the orders under Section 35 (3) of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963 would be in force from 6 a.m. on Wednesday till midnight on October 8. He said this step had been taken as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order during the Datta Mala programme being organised by various groups.

The ban would not apply to weddings, funeral processions and government programmes, he said, adding that prohibitory orders under Section 144 would be imposed if anyone violated the ban.

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