All kinds of protests, rallies and demonstrations are banned in Amalapuram in East Godavari district after the Deputy Collector imposed Section 144 of the CrPC for a week on Friday.
"Section 144 of the CrPc and Section 30 of the Police Act are in force for one week. No dharnas, rallies or any type of agitational programmes will be allowed," Eluru range Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police K.V. Mohan Rao told IANS.
Rao said that BJP and its allied cadres have descended on Amalapuram without any permission from the police or any other authority as part of their 'Chalo Amalapuram' call to protest against the recent chariot blaze at the temple of Antarvedi Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy.
"They tried to organise some rallies and dharnas, mobilising hundreds of people," he said.
Since the BJP and its allies did not have permission to protest, and also considering the raging coronavirus pandemic situation, the police requested them to submit a memorandum to the revenue divisional officer (RDO) or the joint collector.
"We requested 4-5 people to submit a memorandum to the respective RDO or joint collector but they refused and came in large numbers," said the DIG.
Consequently, 70 people were arrested in Amalapuram, who had sneaked in despite the ban order while many BJP leaders are under house arrest across the state.
"Some people who already came to Amalapuram area have been arrested. The situation is peaceful now," he said.
Some of the BJP leaders under house arrest include Vishnuvardhan Reddy (Tirupati), Sridevi (Rajamundry), Yamini Sharma (Hyderabad) and Suryanarayana Raju (Narsapuram).
A state BJP official claimed that the police arrested some party workers when they were peacefully protesting the arrest of some people at the Amalapuram RDO office.
Meanwhile, BJP MPs G.V.L. Narasimha Rao and C.M. Ramesh have written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, complaining that the Andhra Pradesh government is hindering all kinds of BJP activities protesting attacks on temples.
On September 5, a six-decade-old seven-tiered wooden chariot of the famous Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple at Antarvedi in East Godavari district was gutted in a fire under mysterious circumstances, leading to a spate of protests.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has handed over the chariot case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as the local police could not crack it. The state government has also sanctioned nearly Rs 1 crore to build a new chariot.