Officers suspended for allowing car festival during the lockdown
Around 150 people gathered for the event in Kalaburagi district
Taking serious note of the huge gathering at Siddalingeshwara temple car festival at Rawoor village in Chittapur taluk of Kalaburagi district during COVID-19 lockdown on Thursday morning, Deputy Commissioner B. Sharat placed Chittapur Child Development Project Officer Rajkumar Rathod, who was designated as sectoral magistrate, under suspension on the same evening pending an inquiry.
On the other hand, Superintendent of Police Martin Marbaniang held sub-inspector of police Vijayakumar Bavagi, attached to the Wadi station, responsible for the gathering and suspended him from service, pending an inquiry.
Mr. Marbaniang said that around 150 people had gathered for the car festival around 6.30 a.m. and the sub-inspector of police had failed to prevent it. A case was later registered in the Wadi police station against 20 people under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 149 (unlawful assembly guilty of an offence) of the Indian Penal Code.
“At present, we have identified and named 20 people in the FIR. We are verifying video clips to identify all the people who participated in the event. Wadi sub-inspector of police has been suspended as he should have ensured that this kind of incident did not happen as all the people are from the same village. The sub-inspector of police had, two days ago, conducted a meeting with the secretary of the temple and told him not to organise any programmes. The secretary had agreed and given it in writing that no such event would be organised,” Mr. Marbaniang told reporters.
A week ago, Chennanna Bali and Gundanna Bali, head and secretary, respectively, of the temple, announced the cancellation of the festival owing to the lockdown. They had said that a simple puja would be offered to the deity in the presence of a few people to avoid mass gathering. To prevent a crowd, police personnel had been deployed in the village round the clock.
According to sources in the village, the temple car was pulled between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. when the police personnel changed shift.
Mr. Sharat had extended the imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the entire district till April 30 to ensure that no mass gathering would happen as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The first COVID-19 death in India was reported from Kalaburagi.