CPI(M) workers were marching against ‘made snana’, ‘pankti bheda’

The police resorted to lathi-charge and arrested over 150 workers of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to prevent them from going to the Sri Krishna Math and temple here on Thursday.

The CPI(M) workers were protesting against the practice of ‘made snana’ (where devotees roll over plantain leaves containing leftovers of food served to Brahmins) and ‘pankti bheda’ (separate seating arrangements while serving food in temples).

Seven CPI(M) workers and two police personnel were injured in the lathi-charge and were admitted to the government hospital and a private hospital here. Several others suffered minor injuries.

Barricades breached

The police put up barricades near SMSP Sanskrit College on the way to the temple.

After CPI(M) politburo member M.A. Baby finished his speech near the barricades at around 3.10 p.m., State party secretary G.V. Srirama Reddy urged the police to allow the protesters to go to the temple as there was no legal bar against it. “We are not against the Krishna temple, we are against the practice [of ‘pankti bheda’] followed there,” he said.

Even as the police announced that they would arrest protesters, some CPI(M) workers began pushing the barricades and climbing over them. When they couldn’t prevent this, the police resorted to lathi-charge.

This led to arguments between protesters and the police.

The windshield of two buses, arranged by the police to carry the protesters, were smashed.

CPI(M) leaders including Mr. Reddy, G.N. Nagaraj, K.R. Sriyan, B. Madhava and K. Shankar, as well as several workers were arrested and taken to DAR Grounds.

Jaganath Rao, taluk magistrate, justified the lathi-charge saying that some protesters, including women, fell while attempting to climb the barricade. If the police had not lathi charged them, there would have been a stampede and loss of lives.

He claimed some workers had the police with their flagstaff.

There were about 2,000 protesters, most of them from outside the district, he said.

‘End practice’

Earlier, addressing the protesters, Mr. Baby called for an end to discriminatory practices such as ‘made snana’ and ‘pankti bheda’. He urged people to follow the message of the 12th century social reformer Basaveshwara, who was against the caste system.