Vinay Kulkarni, supporters booked for violating COVID-19 protocol
The Belagavi police have filed two cases against Congress leader and former Minister Vinay Kulkarni and his supporters for alleged violation of COVID-19 protocol and weekend curfew rules in the border district of Belagavi on Saturday.
There was crowding as he came out of Hindalga jail, after obtaining bail in a murder case, and was welcomed by hundreds of supporters.
The case about violation of weekend curfew was filed after the police took suo motu cognisance of the offence at the open ground outside the jail. Another one, about protocol violation, was registered following a complaint by the Panchayat Development Officer of the Hindalaga Gram Panchayat. The two cases were registered in the rural police station.
The cases filed under various provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act and Cr.PC, name Mr. Kulkarni and 300 others.
“They violated guidelines despite advice by prison and police officers,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Vikram Amathe told The Puucho.
Earlier, a huge crowd awaited Mr. Kulkarni when came out of the jail. People from his constituency, his supporters, and Congress workers had come to Belagavi by cars, vans, and mini-lorries from Dharwad and surrounding areas. The police estimated that over 2,000 people had gathered in the ground before the jail gate.
He was taken in a procession in an open car from Hindalaga village to Rani Channamma Circle. The celebration caused a traffic jam on Belagavi-Hindalaga Road. From there, Mr. Kulkarni left for Bengaluru. The Supreme Court bail order bars him from entering Dharwad district till the bail period, the police said.
Mr. Kulkarni, however, has defended his supporters holding a welcome rally, saying it was the “expression of happiness of innocent voters”. He also argued that the government had no moral right to stop his rallies or book him for violations when it was “openly supporting” the BJP’s Janashirvad rallies. “My supporters are not politicians. They are just innocent voters,” he said.
The Congress leader has been charged with plotting and executing the murder of Yogeshgouda Goudar, a former Zilla panchayat member, over a real estate dispute. CBI investigators arrested Mr. Kulkarni in November 2020. Some of his associates were also arrested.