Fatwa backlash: BJP, VHP offices attacked

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Chennai, Sep 23: Members of the ruling DMK today attacked the offices of the BJP, Hindu Munnani and VHP, venting their ire against the reported 'fatwa' issued by a former BJP MP and VHP leader against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi for his critical remarks on 'Lord Ram'.

Meanwhile, in Bhopal, former BJP MP Ram Vilas Vedanti executed a political somersault by alleging that his statement on the Ram Sethu issue was twisted out of context.

''The statement, issued in my name and concerning Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, was twisted,'' said Dr Vedanti's new statement released to the press by the BJP today.

Party spokesman Prakash Jawadekar and former Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who attended the BJP's three-day National Executive meet that concluded today, dodged media posers in this context.

''Seers do not believe in violence. Mr Karunanidhi attempted to insult Hindu society and I condemn that attempt,'' the new statement said.

Police said the BJP State headquarters 'Kamalalayam' at Vaidhyaraman Street was attacked and ransacked by 500 DMK workers, led by party T Nagar district Secretary J Anbazhagan, while a DMK functionary led a group of his partymen in attacking the Hindu Munnani office at Egmore.

Later, a group pelted stones at the VHP office at Ramanujam Street in T Nagar.

The house of BJP leader H Raja in Karaikudi and that of his father-in-law also came under attack from a group of DMK men early today, police said.

In several places across the state, the DMK men burnt the effigy of former BJP MP Ram Vilas Vedanti for issuing the 'fatwa' and uprooted the flag posts of the BJP.

State BJP General Secretary Tamizhisai Soundararajan said seven party workers and herself were injured in the attack.

Condeming the attack, the BJP and the AIADMK demanded the dismissal of the DMK Government, alleging breakdown of law and order in the State.

The Dalit Panthers of India (DPI), an ally of the DMK, also joined the protests by burning the effigy of Mr Vedanti and senior BJP leader L K Advani in several parts of the State.

Reacting to the attacks, Mr Karunanidhi said there was no need for protests and violence and appealed to the partymen not to picket the offices of Hindu outfits.

A day after threatening to lead a demonstration in front of the BJP office, demanding withdrawal of the fatwa, DMK Treasurer and Electricity Minister Arcot N Veerasamy said Mr Karunanidhi warned him against indulging in picketing programmes and gave permission only to register their protest in a peaceful way.

Following the directive, he appealed to the party cadre to restrict themselves to just registering their protest and not to indulge in any violence.
iving a detailed account of the attack, Ms Soundararajan said in the wake of Mr Veerasamy's threat, she and the party's State unit Vice-President G Kumaravelu had mobilised partymen, who positioned themselves outside the office around 0900 hrs. The BJP members moved into the office and locked the grill door on the assurance of the police, who barricaded the area, that the agitators would not be let in.

The mob, which came around 1000 hrs, threw a fuspllade of stones, smashing window panes and vehicles parked outside. Soon, a group uprooted the small flag posts, broke the glass door of the office, ransacked it and beat up BJP activists with sticks, Mrs Soundararajan said.

''If this could happen to a national party, I wonder what is going on in Tamil Nadu,'' she told reporters here.

Meanwhile, the State unit of the BJP lodged a police complaint against Mr Veerasamy for inciting violence.

Talking to reporters after the attack on his office, BJP Vice-President G Kumaravelu said the party would petition the State Governor, demanding dismissal of the DMK Government.

Condemning the violence, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa alleged that the attack had taken place with the connivance of the police and the incident showed that the law and order situation was deteriorating.

She asked the Centre not to waste time in dismissing the DMK Government for functioning in an ''anti-Constitutional'' manner.

Speaking after leading an agitation in the city, DPI General Secretary Thirumavalavan urged the Centre to detain Mr Vedanti under the National Security Act and impose a ban on the VHP.

Meanwhile, DMK Parliamentary Party Leader and Union Minister T R Baalu urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take stern action against Mr Vedanti for issuing the 'fatwa' and said this had sent shock waves across the Tamil community.

The protests were a sequel to the reported announcement of Mr Vedanti in Ayodhya that he would reward with gold anyone who beheaded Mr Karunanidhi or cut his tongue for questioning the existence of Lord Ram.

UNI

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