Saffron flags back in Vijayanagar market

Saffron flags back in Vijayanagar market

Fears of religious strife

The flags were put up at the market a week ago, prompting civic groups to file a police complaint. DH FILE/Pushkar V

Days after authorities removed the saffron flags tied to shops in the Vijayanagar market, unidentified groups have tied them back again to segregate shops and street vendors.

On Friday, some street vendors removed the flags tied the previous evening, while those fastened to the shops remained.

Associations alleged that street vendors have been made to sign papers under duress, declaring the 'voluntary' display of flags. Locals said the action could trigger communal strife and blamed ‘political pressure’ for the repeat of the incident.

After a meeting between street vendor associations and top officials, another complaint will be filed soon.

The flags were put up at the market a week ago, prompting civic groups to file a police complaint.

“It happened again because the police did not act against those responsible for the attempt to divide people,” said Vinay Sreenivasa, representative, Bengaluru Jilla Beedi Vyaparigala Sangatanegala Okkoota.

A 20- to 30-member gang forced street vendors to sign papers in support of putting up the flags, Srinivasa alleged. “The same group that unsuccessfully moved the court to evict the street vendors are now dividing them along religious lines,” he added.

Vijayanagar resident Sindhu Rao, who filed a complaint with regard to the issue, said civic authorities and the police have removed the flags. “People were worried about the communal division in the market,” she said. “Allowing this would foment further trouble.”

A member of the Vijayanagar Padachari Hannu Mattu Tarakari Vyaparigala Kshemabhvruddhi Sangha said, on condition of anonymity, that the street vendors had filed a complaint in the earlier flag-tying incident.

“Our delegation met the Deputy Commissioner of Police and explained the prevailing situation. They were directed to file another complaint,” he said.

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