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50 held on rioting charges after violent protest over temple ritual in Karnataka

Fifty people have been arrested on charges including rioting after a large crowd barged into a temple and attempted to take out a procession, violating restrictions on the annual ritual due to Covid-19 situation in Koppal district in Karnataka, police said on Friday.

The irate locals broke open the gate of the temple under the control of the state government, attacked police personnel and also damaged a vehicle during the incident in Dotihal village on Thursday, they said.

Two cases have been registered for violating the prohibitory orders and damaging the temple and another for rioting and 50 people arrested while many have fled the village, a police officer said.

When we stopped them, they hit our vehicle… and damaged it. They attacked a few of us also, the officer told PTI.

According to police, every year on the eve of Gauri Pooja, the idol of sage Shukamuni is seated in a palanquin and taken around the village in a procession.

However, due to coronavirus related restrictions, the jurisdictional Tahsildar had banned any ritual where a large number of people could congregate.

Instead, the officer had permitted a limited number of people to do pooja inside the temple, police said.

Irked over this, around 150 people gathered at the temple and demanded that they should also be given similar privilege.

As the officials stuck to their stand, the angry crowd demolished the gate, barged inside the temple and took out the palanquin. However, police managed to stop them from taking out the procession.

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