Despite tight security, people lay siege to toll gate in K’taka, several arrested (Ld)

Several people were arrested when hundreds of protesters laid a siege to the Surathkal toll gate on Tuesday despite heavy police presence.

Situation continues to be volatile in the region.

The people had issued a deadline to the Karnataka state government till today (October 18) to vacate the Surathkal toll gate allegedly operating illegally.

Since, the tollgate continued to operate, calls were given to vacate and throw the NITK tollgate into the Arabian Sea.

Ten platoons of the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP), five platoons of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), 450 police constables and 40 senior police officers have been deputed at the Surathkal tollgate.

The agitators who were staging a protest on the service road have suddenly marched ahead towards the tollgate. Thousands of police personnel tried hard to rein in the situation and took several protesters into custody.

Senior Congress leader Mithun Rai stood at the toll collection booth and vented out his ire on the authorities. The glasses of the tollgate were broken during the incident. Presently, the toll collection had been stopped at the tollgate.

The agitation taken up by the Surathkal Toll gate Struggle Committee had been supported by various organisations and people across Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. The committee had made preparations to gather 5,000 people at the tollgate to remove it.

The committee had staged a protest on September 14 in this regard. Highway authority’s regional officer had assured that it will be removed in one month’s period. Muneer Katipalla, who is leading the committee had told the regional officer that if the tollgate is not vacated, people would break the tollgate and throw it into the Arabian Sea.

The agitators are demanding the declaration of the final date of the vacating of the NITK tollgate. They had given a deadline for authorities to vacate the tollgate by October 18.

It is alleged that Surathkal NITK tollgate is operating illegally. The tollgate was installed temporarily six years ago on the condition that when the tollgate at Hejamadi town, located nine kilometers away, starts operating, this one will be vacated.

However, even after the Hejamadi tollgate started operating, vehicle riders are also made to pay toll at the Surathkal tollgate. Katipalla has alleged that due to the agitation, the highway authorities have taken a decision to close Surathkal tollgate. The state government had also given its consent. Despite this, the illegal collection has continued, he added.




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