Tension prevailed at Yellur village on Sunday after members of the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samithi (MES) resorted to stone-throwing and attacked police and mediapersons.
They were opposing the removal of a controversial signboard, depicting the village as part of Maharashtra, by the district administration for the second time in the village on Sunday. Police resorted to caning and dispersed the mob, bringing the situation under control.
As many as 18 people, including 14 police personnel, were injured in the incident. As a precautionary measure, the district administration has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC on Belgaum, Nippani and Khanapur taluks.
In a pre-dawn operation, Deputy Commissioner N Jayaram and Superintendent of Police Chandrakant went to Yellur and removed the signboard, which was re-erected by MES activists on Saturday, within 24 hours after the administration removed the board in view of the high court directive.
Similar boards which had surfaced at Desur, Rajahansgad and Sulaga were also removed. However, several such boards installed in different parts of the district and Belgaum City several years ago continue to exist.
It appears that the district administration was concerned only with the Yellur board in view of the high court directive, which also sought a report on the action taken in this regard by July 28.
Immediately after the removal of the board, the police took two youths into custody for trying to disturb peace by raising slogans. They were later released after villagers protested against the detention.
The villagers then celebrated the youths’ release, with one even brandishing a sword. The crowd started attacking the police and mediapersons with sticks and stones.
The police then caned and dispersed the mob. SP Chandragupta told Deccan Herald the administration wouldn’t allow the board to be re-erected. Nearly 1,000 police personnel have been deployed in the village.