Staff Correspondent

Bidar: Bandh in Nittur was total and peaceful on Thursday. Some organisations had given the call in protest against the Government action to remove a Shivaji portrait put up on an encroached area in Mehkar village in Bhalki taluk recently. This was followed by violence in Mehkar and protests in Bhalki. Three Government officials and three others were injured in these incidents. Seven buses and the tahsildar's jeep were burnt in Mehkar and Bhalki. As many as 61 persons have been arrested in connection with the violence and destruction of public property. They have been remanded in judicial custody.

However, the situation was peaceful in Mehkar now, the police said.

In Nittur, shops, offices and schools were closed. Members of Sriram Sene, Shiva Sangram Sanghatan and other organisations staged a dharna on Nittur Main Road Cross. They demanded that the tahsildar come to the spot to receive the memorandum. However, they submitted a memorandum to the village accountant and the sub inspector of police and dispersed.

Sharanappa Kumbar of Sriram Sene and Sunil Patil of Shiva Sangram Sanghatan and others led the protestors.

Meanwhile in Mehkar, BJP MLA Rajendra Verma led a procession to the disputed site. He opposed the Government to remove the portrait. He held Tahsildar Manikappa Mangalagi responsible for the act. Eyewitness accounts said he and his followers brought the portrait from the police station and put it back on the pole. When contacted, however, Mr. Verma said that he had installed a new portrait purchased from Gulbarga.