(Eds: Updates story with release of leaders) Chennai, Nov 6 (PTI) The BJP's Tamil Nadu unit chief L Murugan, senior leaders, including C T Ravi and scores of Saffron party workers, were on Friday detained at Tiruttani near here by police when they tried to embark on a statewide 'Vel Yatra', defying a ban.
After their detention, BJP workers staged flash protests across Tamil Nadu condemning their detention and for not allowing the yatra.
The yatra was to 'expose' the DMK, which Murugan alleged was behind the 'Karuppar Kootam' that denigrated 'Kanda Sashti Kavacham', a spiritual hymn in praise of Lord Muruga.
After the party took up the matter, four men of the group were arrested but the demand to book them under the National Security Act has not been met yet, Murugan said.
'Who is behind the Karuppar Kootam?' he asked, claiming the 'DMK is behind the Kootam' and that legal support was also extended by the Dravidian partymen to those arrested.
Karuppar Kootam is a collective of atheists with backing from fringe rationalist, Dravidian outfits and the group also ran a YouTube channel under the same name and it was subsequently blocked following police action.
'Karuppu' means black and 'Kootam' crowd.
'Lord Muruga has given his blessings and we are starting the yatra,' Murugan told reporters here, despite the government disallowing the yatra.
Clad in saffron, Murugan boarded a propaganda van from Koyambedu here and proceeded to Tiruttani followed by party workers in many vehicles.
Emerging through the sunroof, the BJP leader held a 'Vel,' a spear-like weapon of Lord Karthikeya (Muruga), and waved to the people.
On reaching Tiruttani, he offered prayers at the temple of Lord Muruga.
Amid chants of 'Vetri (victory) vel' and 'Veera (valour) Vel,' when Murugan tried to start the yatra in his custom made van, he was detained along with BJP workers.
Besides Murugan, party's national general secretary Ravi, state leaders Pon Radhakrishnan, C P Radhakrishnan and H Raja were among those detained at Tiruttani.
On his twitter handle, Ravi said they cannot be stopped in their endeavour to serve the Tamil people.
'We will continue our efforts.' In the evening, after all of them were released by police, Murugan said the 'Vel' would overcome all hurdles.
Though the government banning the yatra was a matter of 'big disappointment,' the party's initiative to expose those who hurt the sentiments of people would go on, he said.
Union Minister of State for Home, G Kishan Reddy visited Tiruttani to offer worship at the temple and Murugan and BJP leaders called on him at a hotel.
In July, after Kootam's purported objectionable reference to the hymn surfaced it led to an outrage and four men connected to the group were arrested.
The following month BJP cadres held a state-wide 'Vel' puja.
Tiruttani is 85 km from here, close to the Andhra Pradesh border and the town is home to Sri Subramanya Swami temple, one of the six sacred shrines, 'Padai Veedu' of Lord Muruga.
The Vel yatra was originally scheduled to commence from Friday and go on till December 6 covering all the six abodes of Lord Muruga or Karthikeya spread across Tamil Nadu.
The government, however, refused permission for it 'in view of the coronavirus pandemic.' The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi had petitioned the police against permission for the yatra alleging that it could lead to violence.
Also, two petitions were filed in the Madras High Court against the yatra and the government informed the court on Thursday that there would be no permission for it.
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