Several injured as police cane unruly mob at Congress meeting

Reining in: Police detaining a person who tried to disrupt the Congress workers meeting in Bhadravati on Thursday.

Reining in: Police detaining a person who tried to disrupt the Congress workers meeting in Bhadravati on Thursday.  

Special Correspondent

Trouble broke out when S. Bangarappa asked MLA Sangamesh not to sit on the dais

Incident brings to the fore factionalism in the Congress in Bhadravati

BHADRAVATI: In the first ever poll-related violence in the Shimoga Lok Sabha constituency, several persons, including four journalists, were injured in a lathi-charge and the resultant stampede at an election meeting organised by the Congress on Thursday, which ended in a fiasco.

The journalists injured were Jagdish Sampalli, reporter, and Shimoga Nandan, photographer, both of the New Indian Express, Sachin Mellegatti, correspondent of Deccan Chronicle and Jagdish of TV9, a private news channel.

While Mr. Sampalli and Mr. Nandan, who sustained grievous injuries, were admitted to a private hospital in Shimoga, Mr. Sachin, who received bruises, was discharged after being given treatment.

The venue of the meeting was thrown into total disorder with Congress candidate for the Shimoga Lok Sabha constituency S. Bangarappa watching the situation from the dais as a helpless spectator.

Trouble broke out at the meeting organised at the Kanaka Mantap when Mr. Bangarappa asked local Congress MLA B.K. Sangamesh not to sit on the dais. Taking it as an insult, Mr. Sangamesh left the meeting in a huff which angered his supporters. They rushed to the dais and started shouting anti-Bangarappa slogans not allowing the organisers to hold the meeting. They demanded that Mr. Bangarappa apologise to Mr. Sangamesh for the insult heaped on him.

The situation worsened when another group of the party workers, identified as anti-Sangamesh supporters, raised slogans against Mr. Sangamesh and tried to rush towards the dais.

Repeated requests by the former Minister Kagodu Thimmappa, the former MLA Karianna and Madhu Bangarappa, son of S. Bangarappa, to maintain peace went unheeded.

Police resorted to lathi-charge to bring the situation under control when the unruly groups of workers were involved in fisticuffs. In the meantime, a paper ball was hurled at Mr. Bangarappa.

People started running helter-skelter when the police chased the trouble-mongers. In the melee that ensued, several persons including, women, children and journalists were injured.

The former Chief Minister and Rajya Sabha member S.M. Krishna, who was slated to address the gathering, was not allowed to come to the dais in view of the trouble. The incident brought into focus the worsening factionalism in the Congress unit in Bhadravati taluk. Taking note of it Mr. Bangarappa reportedly asked Mr. Sangamesh not to sit beside him on the dais which he took as an insult.

Later, addressing a small group of people at the venue, Mr. Bangarappa said that Mr. Sangamesh was directly responsible for the incident. He urged the people to support him in the election.

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