A Congress member allegedly referred to Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat as communal

Violence erupted in Kalladka, with instances of stone throwing and burning of vehicles reported on Saturday evening, after a speaker at a Congress conference allegedly referred to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat as “communal”.

Around 5 p.m., congress workers had gathered for a ‘harmony’ meet where local leaders and B. Ramanath Rai, Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment, spoke. However, one of the speakers allegedly said that Mr. Bhat will incite communal violence before the elections to polarise voters, said the Bantwal Town Police.

A group of people took offense to this, and allegedly tried to storm into the venue. In the ensuing fight and throwing of stones, at least three Congress workers were injured, while four policemen, including Sub Inspector Sanjay Kumar, suffered injuries.

They have been admitted to a nearby private hospital, said the police.

With the police fearing the situation may turn communal, platoons of the Karnataka State Reserve Police were rushed to the town.

At least two bikes were set on fire, while several establishments along National Highway 75, which runs through the town, suffered damage in the stone throwing, said the police. Police resorted to lathi charge to disperse the crowd and the violence abated around 8 p.m.

Allegations to and fro

While confirming the tenor of the speech, Mr. Rai said there was “nothing” wrong in the accusations.

“This is nothing compared to the inflammatory, communal speeches made by Kalladka Bhat. We have the recordings and there is nothing defamatory about it. It is the RSS men creating trouble,” the Minister told The Hindu.

Responding to the speech, Mr. Bhat said he was in Bangalore and was in no way connected to the violence. Denying that he ever made inflammatory speeches, he said, “I have heard that it was the congress workers who started throwing stones when some men of the town went to peacefully register their protest against the speeches. They (Congress) are trying to provoke and incite violence by repeatedly referring to disharmony in Kalladka. These speeches are for votes before the election,” he said.

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