Congress worker dies during march against illegal mining (Lead)

July 25th, 2010 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, July 25 (IANS) A 65-year-old worker of Karnataka’s opposition Congress collapsed and died Sunday on the first day of the party’s 320-km ‘padayatra’ (march) from Bangalore to Bellary to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s powerful ministers, the Reddy brothers, over illegal mining.
Chikkaramaiah, collapsed near Indian Institute of Science (IISc), about eight kilometre from the starting point of the march, and was pronounced dead by doctors at a private hospital, police said.

State Congress working president D.K. Shivakumar expressed grief over the death of the worker and said the party will provide financial and other help to his family.

State Congress leaders and hundreds of workers began the march Sunday morning from Freedom Park in Bangalore city centre and halted for the night at a school after covering a distance of about 16 km on the first day.

The leaders and workers plan to walk 20 km a day and reach the iron-ore rich Bellary district Aug 9, coinciding with the start of the ‘Quit India’ movement against the British colonialists in 1942, and hold a rally in the political base of the Reddy brothers.

Several freedom fighters and writers, including Jnanpith award winner U.R. Anantha Murthy, have extended support for the walk and were present at the Freedom Park in the heart of Bangalore for the brief launch ceremony.

Freedom Park was earlier the city’s central jail where during the 1975-77 Emergency where several senior opposition leaders including, the BJP’s L.K. Advani were lodged.

The BJP plans to counter the Congress ‘padayatra’ by organising four rallies beginning from Davangere in central Karnataka Aug 2, Gulbarga in the north Aug 5, Mysore in the south Aug 12 and the last one in Bellary Aug 20.

The Reddy brothers - state Tourism Minister G. Janardhana, his elder brother and Revenue Minister G. Karunakara and the younger G. Somashekara, a member of the assembly - are accused of large-scale illegal mining and export of iron ore.

Janardhana Reddy, the most vocal of the brothers, has denied the allegations but Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) are insisting on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the issue.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has rejected the demand and has asked the state Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde, a retired Supreme Court judge, to investigate the illegal mining and export since 2000-2001.

Though the Reddy brothers and their supporting legislators from Bellary have dared opposition members to visit the district, the Congress is saying the march is not against individuals but to expose illegal mining and the BJP government’s failure on several fronts.

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