Mangaluru: Devotees at the Sri Kavoor Mahalingeshwara temple here were taken by surprise when the local police arrived and tried to stop its Maha Shivaratri bhajans and Yakshagana performance Monday night.
The incident went viral on social media attracting the ire of the public and various organisations before MLAs, Dr Bharath Shetty and Vedavyas Kamath arrived and took the policemen to task. Once they had left, the bhajans and Yakshagana continued.
The bhajans are held every year at the temple on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri as is a Yakshagana performance. But at around 11 pm, the Kavoor station inspector accompanied by ACP North, reportedly arrived at the temple gate and asked the organisers to stop the bhajans.
Recalling the incident, temple managing committee head, Ramanna Shetty, said, "We didn't understand what was happening and tried to make them see reason. But the police went on stage where the Yakshagana was being performed and decreased the volume to almost zero, annoying the artistes, who stopped the performance. They later asked the bhajans to be stopped."
Mr Shetty said the officers informed him that they had come on the directions of IGP (Western Range), Arun Chakravarthi. "The police officers were very rude. They threatened to book people if they didn't do as told. This is the first time they are doing this in a temple. But for the last three months the police have been intervening in any place where a 'mehendi,' bhuta kola (spirit worship) or Yakshagana is held," said a local, Kishore Rai.
Mr Bharath Shetty, meanwhile, told reporters he had spoken to the police commissioner and he had apologised and promised to look into the incident.
When contacted, IGP, Arun Chakravarthi said he had received several calls from people about the noise from the temple and so had asked the inspector to look into it. "But it looks like he mishandled the situation," he added.
The district in-charge minister, U T Khader, said he had asked the police commissioner to give him a report on the incident and promised to take action based on it....