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Cops block rally, arrest BJP men

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Tension prevailed in north Andhra on Tuesday as the BJP and Jana Sena sought to corner the State government with their ‘Chalo Ramatheertham Rally’ taken out from Vizag city to Ramatheertham of Vizianagaram district defying the police ban order.

Shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans, BJP AP president Somu Veerraju led leaders and activists of his party and also the Jana Sena. The participants in the rally were taken into custody as they tried to climb the Ramatheertham hill as the police had denied them permission.

Many leaders of the two parties had been kept under house arrest even before they could join the rally in Vizag and other places. Veerraju condemned police curbs all along Vizag-VizianagaramRamateertham route, where BJP and JSP planned the rally to deplore the inordinate delay in identifying the culprits involved in the desecration of the idol. Despite the sizable presence of police personnel and restrictions, Veerraju along with some others reached Ramatheertham Junction on Tuesday morning but could not get permission to climb the hill. After heated arguments and jostling with police personnel at Ramatheertham junction, they were arrested.

Expressing his ire over the police curbs, restrictions and detention of BJP leaders and activists, Veerraju said that TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and YSRCP leader V Vijayasai Reddy and Ministers had visited the temple, but they were blocked from visiting the shrine. The police first issued permission and later withdrew it, he pointed out. “The State government has been adopting double standards.

We demand the immediate resignation of Endowments Minister Vellampalli Srinivas Rao for failing to protect the temples in the state,” Veerraju thundered. He said that sentiments of Hindus were deeply hurt as the head of the Lord Rama idol at the historic Ramatheertham temple was broken but no concrete steps have so far been towards apprehending the culprits.

A woman leader, Yasaswini, was allegedly manhandled by the police following which she collapsed. Former state BJP president Kanna Lakshminarayana and former party MLA P Vishnukumar Raju were placed under house arrest, party leaders claimed. In several other places too, the BJP and the Jana Sena leaders were prevented from proceeding to Ramatheertham in Vizianagaram district.

In Visakhapatnam, Rajya Sabha member CM Ramesh and former minister Kamineni Srinivas were not allowed to leave the city BJP office by the police in a bid to prevent them from going to Ramatheertham. Vizianagaram police said that in view of the prevailing sensitive situation at Ramatheertham, Section 30 of the Police Act was imposed to curb the public meetings and protests in and around Ramatheertham.

BJP leader P Vishnu Kumar Raju, who was placed under house arrest in Vizag city, said that AP government can’t obstruct their Chalo Ramatheertham Rally and their party will organise the rally some other day. The police in Vizag city also didn’t allow the BJP leaders and activists from their homes and thwart their efforts to join in the rally. BJP MP G V L Narasimha Rao condemned the arrest of Veerraju and other leaders.

Such highhanded actions against peaceful protests, over the beheading of centuries-old Lord Rama’s idol, only exposed the ineptness of the Jaganmohan Reddy government, he said in a statement. BJP state general secretary S Vishnuvardhan Reddy said they would complain to the Centre against “the police excesses” in the state

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