Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha (KCVP) president Vatal Nagaraj and more than 200 of his supporters were arrested by the Karnataka police at the inter-State border near Thalavadi on Saturday when they attempted to enter Tamil Nadu despite a ban on their entry.
The Erode district administration passed an order on Friday under Section 144 of the Cr..PC banning the entry of Mr. Nagaraj and his supporters into the Thalavadi block from February 1 to 28 as the former MLA announced a protest condemning the Tamil Nadu government for imposing Tamil as the first language in the schools in Thalavadi, where more than 90 per cent of the people speak Kannada.
Police personnel led by Deputy Superintendent of Police P. Muthuchamy sealed the entry points to Thalavadi for about an hour during the protest. Karnataka police said the arrest was made in order to maintain peace in the area.
Mr. Nagaraj and his supporters staged a demonstration at Ellakattai, about 4 km from Thalavadi town, before they were arrested by Karnataka police.
Addressing the supporters, the former MLA said Kannada was the language of a majority of the people living in the block. By making Tamil the first language in schools, the government violated the Constitutional guarantee given to linguistic minorities.
“We are not protesting against the people of Tamil Nadu. We are only opposing the government for harassing the Kannadigas in Tamil Nadu,” he said. Mr. Nagaraj also demanded the merger of Thalavadi and Hosur with Karnataka as these two areas had a large number of Kannada speaking people.
He said a “border bandh” would be organised for February 23 during which the KCVP members would prevent traffic between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to demand the merger of the two towns with their State.
Mr. Nagaraj had also demanded the release of some Kannada-speaking persons who were arrested during the protests that following the death of a 15-year-old school girl in an accident last month. The girl was hit by a jeep in which two parish priests were learning driving. Police arrested 58 persons for causing damage to public property in the protest that followed.