City was largely peaceful on Monday; peace committee to meet today
MANGALORE: Curfew in Mangalore has been extended till 7 a.m. on Tuesday. The district administration relaxed the curfew for three hours on Monday between 9 a.m. and 12 noon giving people and opportunity to stock up provisions.
The day was largely peaceful, barring a few incidents. Vijayachandra, who had come from Kerala on business, was hit with a club in the Bunder area around 12.45 p.m. He was admitted to Wenlock Hospital. An incident of stone throwing was reported from Farangipet and a car was torched in the Pandeshwar police station limits.
Visiting leaders, including Union Minister of State for Home Shriprakash Jaiswal and Karnataka Home Minister M.P. Prakash, were of the opinion that the curfew should not have been imposed for more than two days, and it should have been declared at night.
The ministerial delegation from the Centre included Oscar Fernandes, Minister without portfolio. Mr. Jaiswal told presspersons he was aware of the problems of the region, particularly the existence of fundamentalist groups, and he concerned that the uncertainty and tension continued even seven days after violence first erupted.
Mr. Jaiswal held a meeting with the district officials, including Inspector-General of Police (Western Range) H.N. Sathyanarayana Rao soon after his arrival. The Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly N. Dharam Singh; B. Janardhana Poojary, MP; National Administrative Reforms Commission chairman M. Veerappa Moily; senior Congress leader form the district B.A. Mohideen; and the former Minister B. Ramanath Rai were present.
Mr. Jaiswal said the situation should have been brought under control sooner. Curfew should not have been declared for such a long time, he said.
He would be submitting a report on his observations to the Centre, he said, adding that all measures would be taken to ensure that Mangalore returned to normality at the earliest. He also felt that there had been a delay in peace committee meetings.
Earlier, Mr. Prakash told a press conference that the Government would begin the process of reviving legislation to ban organisations that foment communal tension and call for bandhs for flimsy reasons and disturb communal harmony.
He said there was legislation and also court directives that organisers of bandhs should be held responsible for damage caused during the bandh. The provisions had not been strictly enforced. Those who call for bandhs should be immediately arrested, Mr. Prakash said.
But the Government's priority now was to establish peace in the city. Identifying those responsible for the disturbances would start immediately thereafter. This was not a time to sensationalise matters, he said.
The Minister said the violence had left two people dead and 88 injured, four grievously. A total of 158 cases had been filed and 312 arrests made.
Mr. Prakash was critical about the stand taken by Opposition parties. They were not giving constructive criticism and all the accusations by them were being made with the intention of weakening the administration, he charged.
He said he had spoken to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who offered to send troops to Mangalore, but he told him that the State was capable of handling the situation.
Peace committee meet
Deputy Commissioner M. Maheshwara Rao has fixed called a peace committee meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The meeting will be chaired by district in-charge Minister B. Nagaraja Shetty.