The Central advisory had its desired effect in Karnataka on Saturday, as Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa alerted the police force in all districts to ensure peaceful prayers in churches on Sunday.
The order came a couple of hours after the arrests of the convener of the Bajrang Dal state unit, Mahendra Kumar, and Devendrappa, owner of the printing press where the controversial booklet, Sathyadarshini, was printed.
The Chief minister also handed over a copy of the state government’s reply to the advisory under Article 355 of the Constitution to Governor Rameshwar Thakur on Saturday.
Mahendra Kumar, who was taken into custody in Mangalore for promoting enmity between groups on the basis of religion, caste and language, has been remanded to judicial custody till October 1.
Devendrappa, who was arrested at Koppal in north Karnataka, has confessed that he is a convert from Hinduism to Christianity and printed the booklet two years ago. He, however, discontinued the use of his printing press at Bettigere in Gadag district.
This evening, the CM told all district administrations at a videoconference: “It is your responsibility (to maintain peace) and so you should stand on guard and take all precautionary steps to thwart an attack on churches and prayer halls tomorrow.” He said, “You must take extra care on Sunday as certain forces are trying to destabilise the government.”
Meanwhile, official sources said the CM had informed the Home Ministry of all the steps, including the probe by Justice B.K. Somashekara into last Sunday’s attacks on churches and prayer halls in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Chikmagalur. “It has been decided to review the law and order situation twice daily and keep the Centre informed,” the sources said. What’s more, the state chief secretary has directed the district administrations to hold peace committee meetings every month.
Earlier, a citizens’ delegation led by filmmaker Mahesh Bhat and Dr Abraham Mathai, vice-chairman, Maharashtra Minorities Commission and president, Indian Christian Voice, urged the Centre to ban the Bajrang Dal.