KARNATAKA

Gowda calls off dharna, thanks CM

Bangalore Oct. 28. The dharna, which the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, and other senior leaders of the Janata Dal (Secular) threatened to stage in front of the official residence of the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, here today, was called off with Mr. Krishna conceding Mr. Gowda's demands.

That the demonstration would take place became doubtful late last night when the Chief Minister transferred the Superintendent of Police of Hassan district, Nanjundaswamy, and also sent a letter to Mr. Gowda conveying the action proposed to be taken by the Government on the allegations made against the Hassan police.

The Chief Minister took quick action in shifting Mr. Nanjundaswamy to Bangalore South as Deputy Commissioner of Police, replacing Bhaskar Rao, who is yet to be given a posting.

The Chief Minister's action was apparently aimed pre-empting any ugly incidents, which were likely, if Mr. Gowda had to be arrested at the venue of the dharna. The police had clamped prohibitory orders in a radius of one km around the Chief Minister's residence to prevent the demonstration. Among the others who were to participate in the dharna was the President of the State unit of the JD(S) and former Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah.

At the JD(S) headquarters, where the strategy for the dharna was planned on Monday, Mr. Gowda today thanked the Chief Minister for taking action on his demands.

In his letter, Mr. Krishna told Mr. Gowda that the Additional Chief Secretary, K.K. Mishra, would be submitting his inquiry report at the earliest. Mr. Mishra has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the alleged atrocities committed by the Hassan police. The former Prime Minister had earlier said that the one month given to the committee to submit a report was too long since the details of the atrocities were already with the Government.

Earlier, prior to the dharna being called off, Mr. Gowda held discussions with Mr Siddaramaiah, the former Minister, M.P. Prakash, and other senior leaders on the Chief Minister's appeal to call off the demonstration. Mr. Siddaramaiah and Mr. Prakash suggested that the demonstration should be deferred and, if the Government failed to take action on the Additional Chief Secretary's findings, they could go ahead with the demonstration.

Mr. Gowda told The Hindu that the Chief Minister had taken positive steps to ensure the maintenance of law and order in Hassan district. "I am sincerely thankful to him for the steps taken. There are many people who made comments when I announced that I would stage a demonstration near the Chief Minister's residence. When it comes to taking care of the interests of the people, I don't believe in status. Having occupied the post of Prime Minister, I am fully aware of how to safeguard my prestige and dignity. When kerosene prices were hiked by a big margin, I staged a demonstration with a kerosene can in hand. There were people who commented, but I did not care as long as the common people's interests were taken care of. Even in this case, I have not targeted the Superintendent of Police of Hassan district but only wanted the Government to ensure that law and order was maintained and the common people were not harassed by the authorities."

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