BJP MLA Harish Poonja booked for obstructing police

Mangaluru, May 19 (UNI) Karnataka BJP MLA Harish Poonja faces charges for obstructing police duties after forcibly entering the Belthangady police station to demand the release of a detained party worker.

The incident occurred on Friday evening when police arrested Shashiraj, the taluk president of the BJP Yuva Morcha unit, for alleged illegal quarrying in Melanthabettu village, Dakshina Kannada district.

Following the arrest, MLA Poonja, accompanied by supporters, stormed into the police station, demanding Shashiraj’s release and staging a sit-in protest.

Videos circulating on social media since Sunday show the MLA in a heated confrontation with police officials. In these videos, Poonja is seen shouting at an officer, insisting on the immediate release of Shashiraj due to his affiliation with the BJP.

A statement from Dakshina Kannada police detailed Poonja’s actions, accusing him of abusing and threatening officials, obstructing their duties, and using inappropriate language.

Consequently, a complaint has been filed against the MLA under Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging their duty) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code.

The police raids on the illegal quarry led to the seizure of an excavator, a tractor, and explosives. While Shashiraj was apprehended, another suspect, Pramod Ujire, managed to escape.

The Karnataka Congress responded to the incident by sharing a video on social media, criticising the BJP.

“BJP’s rowdy MLA Harish Poonja has abused police officials who took legal action against a BJP office-bearer for illegal quarrying. Is the job of an MLA to protect criminals or to fulfill the aspirations of the people?” the Congress questioned in their post.

This is not the first time MLA Poonja has been in legal trouble for interfering with official duties. In October last year, an FIR was registered against him for allegedly abusing a forest official during an anti-encroachment operation.

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