Taking a serious note of a huge gathering at Siddalingeshwara temple car festival at Rawoor village in Chittapur taluk, Kalaburagi district in Karnataka, amid the COVID-19lockdown on Thursday morning, Deputy Commissioner B. Sharat placed Chittapur Child Development Project Officer Rajkumar Rathod, who was designated as Sectoral Magistrate, under suspension on the same evening pending an enquiry.
On the other hand, Superintendent of Police Martin Marbaniang held sub-inspector Vijayakumar Bavagi, attached to Wadi police station, responsible for the gathering and suspended him from service for delinquency and irresponsibility pending an enquiry.
As per the information provided by Mr. Marbaniang, around 150 people gathered for the car temple festival around 6.30 a.m. and the sub-inspector had failed to prevent it. A case was later registered in Wadi police station against 20 people under Section 143 (unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 149 (unlawful assembly guilty of an offence) of the Indian Penal Code.
“At present, we have identified and named 20 people in the FIR. We are verifying the video clips to identify all the people who participated in the event. Wadi PSI is suspended as he should have ensured that this kind of incident did not happen as all the people are from the same village. The PSI had, two days back, conducted a meeting with the secretary of the temple and told him not to organise any programmes. The secretary had agreed and given it in writing that no such event would be organised,” Mr. Marbaniang told the media.
A week ago, Chennanna Bali and Gundanna Bali, head and secretary of the temple, announced the cancellation of festival due to the lockdown. They told the press that a simple puja would be offered to the deity in the presence of a few people to avoid mass gathering. To prevent a crowd, the police personnel had been deployed in the village round the clock.
According to sources in the village, the temple car was pulled between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. when the police personnel’s changed shift.
The Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate B. Sharat had extended the imposition of Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code on the entire district till April 30 to ensure that no mass gathering would happen as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.