The Kerala police on Thursday registered a case against a few Bharatiya Janata Party workers for allegedly unfurling a giant “Jai Shri Ram” poster on the terrace of the Palakkad municipal corporation’s building, reported PTI. The banner was put up after the BJP retained the municipality after winning 28 of the 52 wards.
The Palakkad municipal secretary filed a complaint with the police, saying “there was an attempt to destroy communal harmony”.
On Wednesday evening, during celebrations following a victory for the BJP, a few of the workers unfurled the banner, written in Malayalam. Another banner with pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah was also put up. A video of the incident has reportedly gone viral on social media.
“The special branch deputy superintendent has been asked to file a report with regard to the incident,” Palakkad police chief S Sujith Das told the news agency. The case against the workers was registered under Section 153 (wantonly provoking with an intent to cause riot) of the Indian Penal Code, reported ANI.
In 2015, the BJP rose to power in Palakkad municipality for the first time. In the recently concluded local body elections, the party again won with a clear majority. The BJP also won Pandalam municipality in Pathanamthitta district.
Following the incident, District Congress Committee president VK Sreekantan said the actions of the workers were illegal. “A case has to be registered against those involved,” he said, according to The New Indian Express. “The banners exhibited communal content. If the police hadn’t registered a case because of a lack of complaint, the Congress has lodged one with the district police chief on Thursday.”
However, BJP’s district chief E Krishnadas tried to downplay the incident and said there were over 1,500 BJP supporters outside the counting venue. “If a few had sneaked [away] to the top of the municipal building, it was without the knowledge of the leadership,” he added. “The police should have been more vigilant. As soon as the incident came to the notice of the leadership, directions were given to remove the banners. Accordingly, they were removed in a minute.”
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) also filed a complaint, calling the act unconstitutional as the building is a government complex, according to The New Indian Express. Palakkad Superintendent of Police S Sujith Das has asked for a report from Special Branch Deputy Superintendent of Police Krishnan in the matter.