The police in Tamil Nadu on Friday arrested Bharatiya Janata Party’s state unit chief L Murugan as he started the “Vetri Val Yatra”, despite the government denying permission to conduct the roadshow amid the coronavirus pandemic, NDTV reported.
Murugan headed to Tiruttani in the morning for the yatra, according to the news channel. The arrest was part of the administration’s move to stop the event.
Around 100 members of the BJP were stopped by the police, The Times of India reported. At least 500 police personnel were deployed at Tiruttani to prevent BJP workers from gathering in large numbers.
Earlier during the day, speaking to the media, Tamil Nadu BJP leader H Raja had said that they will go ahead with the Yatra and threatened of agitation if permission was denied for the same. Murugan also told NDTV: “I have a right to offer prayers at the temple. To worship is my constitutional right.”
On Thursday, citing the risk of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the Tamil Nadu government had informed the Madras High Court that it will not allow the month-long Yatra slated for Friday.
The religious roadshow is part of the BJP’s campaign ahead of the Assembly elections in the state next year. The Yatra, which involves worshipping Tamil deity Murugan, is an attempt to consolidate Hindu votes ahead of the polls. The roadshow is scheduled to start from Tiruttani and conclude in Thiruchendur to cover six abodes of the deity.
The Yatra has been a bone of contention between BJP and its Tamil Nadu ally All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, since a music video promoting it showed the saffron party President Murugan as the future leader of the state, and featured a picture of AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran.