People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 01

January 06, 2013






Police Resorts to Brutal Lathicharge on Protestors


B Madhava


ACTING under the control of the Sangha Parivar, the BJP government of Karnataka unleashed on December 27, 2012 a reign of terror on the leaders and cadres of the CPI(M) who were peacefully protesting against the caste discrimination being practised at Sri Krishna Temple in Udupi. The demonstration near the Sri Krishna Temple was the culmination of a weeklong jatha against made snana (lower caste people rolling over the plantain leaves containing the leftovers of meals consumed by Brahmins) and pankthi bheda (discrimination on the basis of caste while serving food at the temple). 


Nine party comrades sustained severe injuries and were hospitalised in this lathicharge. The police also arrested 182 comrades, including 40 women, belonging to 13 districts of the state. They have been charged under many sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). These include Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty). Those arrested were kept in police custody till 1 a m on December 28 and thereafter produced before a magistrate at his home. The magistrate granted them interim bail for three days.




Addressing a press conference on December 26, 2012, Sri Vishwesha Thirtha Swamiji of Pejawar Mutt said that since the vegetarian people desire a separate arrangement in the matter of food serving, it is being provided them in the traditional way. But it does not mean that non-vegetarians must be served non-vegetarian food in the temple, he quipped.


This seer, who is one of the national vice presidents of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, is the self-proclaimed religious advisor to the BJP government of Karnataka. He also told the media that he had advised the government to allow a new system of ede snana (rolling on plantain leaves containing prasadam) and the government had accepted that advice, though the Supreme Court had stayed it.


The CPI(M) and many others are of the opinion that ede snana is a crude attempt to perpetuate superstitions and should be rejected by the society.




The two padayatras, which had started from Mangalore in the south and Kundapur in the north on December 24 and 25, 2012 respectively, converged at Ajjarakad Maidan in Udupi on the morning of December 27 as scheduled. About 2000 CPI(M) cadres from 13 districts of the state participated in the meeting which started at 11.30 a m. K Shankar, CPI(M) state secretariat member and secretary of the party’s Udupi district committee, presided.   The meeting was inaugurated by G V Srirama Reddy, secretary of the Karnataka state committee of the CPI(M), and addressed by CPI(M) state secretariat members B Madhava, G N Nagaraj, Maruthi Manpade  and Nithyananda Swamy.


After conclusion of the public meeting, the party cadres and leaders went on procession up to the Sanskrit College circle from where the entrance road to the temple starts. The police had erected heavy barricades at the entrance to the temple road called Kanakadasa Road.


Here the procession culminated into a rally that was addressed by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member M A Baby.

Thereafter G V Srirama Reddy told the police on a mike that the processionists wanted to go to the Krishna Mutt and that they must allow us to go there. He also pointed out that the police have no right to prevent them from going to the temple. In case they were not allowed to go there, they would not move from there, he announced.


It was when the CPI(M) comrades were sitting on the road and shouting slogans against caste discrimination that the acting taluk magistrate suddenly ordered a lathicharge. Then followed the arrest of party leaders and cadres.




There was throughout the state widespread condemnation of this unprovoked police action. The CPI(M) state secretariat gave a call for state level protests on December 28. This was implemented effectively throughout the state. 


Kannada daily Vartha Bharathi editorially commented on December 29, 2012 that everyone has the right to enter a mutt or temple and that nobody including the police has any right to restrict temple entry. The Udupi Krishna Mutt is not a prohibited area, the editorial noted. It also pointed out that on the same day when CPI(M) activists were protesting against pankthi bheda, the Sangha Parivar activists had illegally entered the precincts of Datta Peetha, a prohibited area at Baba Budangiri in Chikmangalur district, hoisted the RSS flag within 200 metres of the prohibited area and shouted slogans, while the police stood there as mute spectators. 


In Hospet, 150 CPI(M) cadres gheraoed the home minister in protest against the lathicharge at Udupi. All of them were arrested.  


Powerful protest demonstrations were held at Dharwad, Mangalore, Belthangadi, Udupi, Kundapur, Bangalore, Raichur, Lingasagur, Sindhanur, Kolar, Bijapur, Sirsi, Dandeli, Karwar, Gangavathi, Kushtagi, Koppala, Davangere, Siddapur, Hunsur, Hassan, Mandya, Savadatti, Nippani, Belgaum,  Bidar, Chikkaballapur, Bagepalli, Gudibande, Gawri-Bidanur, Bellary, Shiraguppa, Gulbarga, Jevargi, Hagaribommanahalli, Surpur, Shahpur and Afzalpur. As at Hospet, the protesters were arrested in Bellary too.


The interim bail expired on December 31 and CPI((M) comrades had to appear before the magistrate on that day to get regular bail.  As it is, now 182 comrades from 13 districts will have to go to Udupi every time the case is posted. To that extent, the BJP government of Karnataka has succeeded in hindering the activities of the CPI(M) in the state. But the CPI(M) is confident of overcoming this hindrance too.