Bengaluru, May 29, 2020: Days after saffron flags placed in the Vijayanagar market area in Bengaluru were removed following complaints from advocates and street vendor groups, the flags were reinstalled on Thursday.
“After our complaints, flags were removed but no action (was taken) against anyone in Vijayanagar. Now, they are again tying flags by force,” said advocate Vinay Sreenivasa, member of the Bengaluru Jilla Beedhi Vyapari Sanghatanegala Okkuta, a street vendor association.
No first information report (FIR) was registered over the incident despite the police receiving five complaints.
The flags first appeared on May 18 but after some of the flags were removed over the next two days, members of a right wing group returned two days later and tied saffron flags on shops and pushcarts in the area. Bajrang Dal leader ML Shivakumar Gowda who led the move to install the flags uploaded a video of the act on social media.
Members of the right wing group maintain that they took the consent of shopkeepers before installing flags. However some shopkeepers said that the flags were installed without their consent and after they had closed the shop and gone home.
Ramesh Banoth, Bengaluru (West) Deputy Commissioner of Police told TNM that the police had written to BBMP asking if the members of the group had permission to install the flag in public spaces. The DCP also said that while some shop owners had agreed to raise the flags, others said they did not agree to it and found the flags installed when they returned to the shop the next day.
Street vendors in the Vijayanagara market say that they have existed in religious harmony since the market was set up in the 1980s. The complaints filed in the Vijayanagar police station described the flags installed on shops as an attempt to communalise the area.