JAIPUR: BJP MP Kirori Meena was detained on Sunday after he unfurled a tribal flag on the wall of the Ambagarh Fort by hoodwinking the heavy police force deployed at the monument, a centre of dispute between the members of the Meena community and Hindutva organisations.
The white flag was unfurled at a parapet in the rear side of the fort, where the tribal leader along with around a dozen supporters reached after walking on the hilly terrain during rainfall in the early hours.
Tensions had escalated between the Meenas and Hindu organisations in June after a saffron flag atop the fort here was removed by a group of youths from the Meena community, allegedly led by independent MLA Ramkesh Meena.
Cross FIRs were lodged at Jaipur’s Transport Nagar police station on July 22.
Police had tightened the security around the fort in view of an announcement by Kirori Meena that he would visit it on August 1.
Editor-in-chief of Sudarshan TV, Suresh Chavhanke, had also announced on social media that he will go to the fort to unfurl a saffron flag on August 1.
While Ramkesh Meena had accused the RSS of trying to tamper with the tribal culture by placing a saffron flag, BJP leader Kirori Meena had opposed him, saying Meenas are Hindu too.
Kirori Meena had demanded action against Ramkesh Meena for trying to disturb harmony.
Reacting to Kirori Meena unfurling the flag, Ramkesh Meena said he has no objection as long as the tribal flag is unfurled and not the saffron one.
Soon after the BJP Rajya Sabha MP released videos and photos of unfurling of the flag, police rushed to the spot and took him away from the fort.
“I, along with dozens of youths of the Meena community have entered the fort and unfurled the flag in Ambagarh,” he said in a video message.
Kirori Meena tweeted that he was “arrested”, but police denied this.
Police officials said they took the MP to Vidhyadhar Nagar police station here to hold talks with him and he raised certain demands, including permission to the tribal people for worshipping at a Shiv temple located inside the fort, which is under the forest department.
Jaipur Police Commissioner Anand Srivastava said Kirori Meena was not arrested but he was detained for entering into a prohibited forest area.
Additional Police Commissioner Rahul Prakash said the BJP leader did not enter the fort and reached only up to its rear wall.
“The MP was not arrested.
Talks with him were held on the issue during which he has made certain demands,” the officer said.
Rajasthan BJP president Satish Poonia and former chief minister Vasundhra Raje condemned the police action against Kirori Meena.
“He always strives for nationalist thought and social harmony and action taken against him shows the petty mentality of the Congress government,” Poonia tweeted.
Raje issued a statement demanding the release of Kirori Meena.
She said he has given a “strong reply to the Congress, which is doing politics in the name of religion”.
After a few hours under detention, Kirori Meena along with his supporters came out of the police station and headed to Gandhi circle at JLN Marg where he addressed his supporters and sat on a dharna for sometime.
His supporters had also gathered outside the police station.
Kirori Meena told them that he unfurled the flag at the fort but he could not visit the Shiv temple because police had locked it.
The JLN Marg was blocked by his supporters demanding a written assurance by the government on the demands raised by the MP.
Meanwhile, Ramkesh Meena also addressed a gathering of his supporters near Rajasthan College on JLN Marg on Sunday and later handed over a representation to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot against those who had placed a saffron flag.
Commenting on Kirori Meena’s move to unfurl a tribal flag at the fort, the Gangapur (Sawaimadhopur) MLA said it was not necessary for Kirori Meena to go there because a tribal flag was already there.
“I welcome that he has placed a tribal flag at the fort, but this was not necessary because a tribal flag was already there.
He had announced that he would go to the fort on Sunday but he did not clarify whether he will unfurl a tribal flag or a saffron flag,” he said.
The independent MLA supported by the ruling Congress said in view of the announcement by Sudarshan TV’s Chavhanke, he and his supporters were waiting on Sunday to protest against him.
“Kirori Meena and Suresh Chavhanke are carrying out the RSS agenda and trying to make it a major issue,” he said.
He said an FIR against Chavhanke was recently registered at Transport Nagar police station for hurting the sentiments of the community on a TV programme.
He said apart from the Shiv temple, there are religious places related to the deities of the Meena community in the fort, and alleged that some RSS members tried to tamper with this and hoisted a saffron flag.
“When the religious place belongs to our deity then how can we allow some other flag? Some idols were damaged a few days back and a saffron flag was placed. It was removed by our community people there,” he said.