Two buses damaged in stone-throwing; posters torn
Protests by members of Hindutva organisations against holding ‘Jesus Christ Festival of Blessings – 2011', organised by Dharwad District Christian Minority Welfare Association on Chelli Ground here, turned violent on Friday night.
Two public transport buses were damaged in stone-throwing.
On Thursday, Hindutva activists protested against the organisers for holding the festival on Chelli Ground, which belongs to the Railways, without taking permission of the authorities concerned.
However, the police permitted the organisers to conduct the festival at the venue on Friday evening after a large number of Christians, who had gathered for the three-day event, resorted to road blockade to vent their ire at the police and the Government. They began the protest soon after members of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal staged a protest.
Christians alleged that vested interests were trying to stop the festival which was being held as part of Christmas celebrations.
An emotional speech by a woman that the festival would be conducted even if they were killed, led to commotion.
Police Commissioner K. Ramachandra Rao intervened and allowed the function to be held for the day after holding discussions with Railway authorities.
However, as the festival began two hours behind schedule at 7.30 p.m., Hindutva activists assembled at Ambedkar Circle and began a protest. Soon, the protest turned violent and the activists started pelting stones at two public transport buses. They also tore posters and banners of the festival.
There was chaos as traffic came to a standstill. Tyres were burnt at three junctions. Soon, the protesters grew in number and there were reports of posters of the festival being torn at other localities.
The protesters alleged that the Police Commissioner was acting like an “agent of Christians”, and wanted the event to be stopped immediately.
A few RSS functionaries also joined the protest and demanded that the event be stopped.
Around 10.30 p.m., the protest shifted to the premises of the Suburban Police Station.