Karnataka prohibits inter, intra-district movement for Congress padayatra

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The Karnataka government on Wednesday prohibited inter-district and intra-district (within Ramanagara), movement of vehicles and persons for participating in Congress’ ‘Nama Neeru Namma Hakku’ padayatra. 

Chief secretary P Ravi Kumar said that despite the explicit order of banning dharnas and protests vide orders on 4 and 11 January, which is in force until 31 January, it is observed that certain groups of people have organized and mobilized people from various districts to Ramanagara district.

The act of defiance is endangering the lives of a large number of people, he said, adding that the padayatra is likely to aggravate the already worsening Covid-19 situation in the state.

In view of this, he directed: “All, inter-district (within Karnataka) and intradistrict (within Ramanagara), movement of vehicles and persons for participating in ‘Nama Neeru Namma Hakku’ padayatra or whichever name it is called with similar purpose from Mekedatu to Bengaluru is prohibited with immediate effect and will be in force until further orders.”

Further, he asked the transport commissioner, deputy commissioners, superintendents of police and all police commissioners of the state to take adequate measures to implement the order. 

“Any person violating these measures will be liable under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, besides legal action under Sections of the IPC, and other legal provisions as applicable,” he said.

The order came after the Karnataka High Court questioned the state government regarding allowing the Congress’ padayatra, which is being held in violation of its Covid curbs. 

It also asked the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) whether it had obtained permission for the padayatra and whether measures have been taken in compliance with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) prescribed by the government to prevent the Covid-19 spread. 

The court asked both the state government as well as Congress to respond by Friday. 

The Congress’ 10-day long padayatra demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project, to which neighbouring Tamil Nadu is opposed, continued for the fourth day on Wednesday for a distance of about 15 km from Chikkenahalli to Ramanagara, with participation of hundreds of party workers and supporters. 

The padayatra that began on 9 January, spanning a distance of nearly 139 km, is scheduled to conclude at Basavanagudi in Bengaluru on 19 January. 

Police have already filed three FIRs against Congress leaders including its state president D K Shivakumar and Leader of Opposition in the assembly Siddaramaiah, for taking out the march defying Covid-19 curbs. 

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