Bengaluru: A former JD(S) leader accused of raping a minor girl has been given a hero’s welcome after he was released on bail yesterday, shocking the people of Karnataka’s cultural capital city of Dharwad. Muktum Sogalad was put behind the bars after he was arrested for the said crime committed inside a lodge in the neighboring twin city Hubballi about a couple of months ago.

Yesterday, as he was granted bail by the Dharwad court where the case was put up, hundreds of his admirers were found waiting in the court’s premises to greet him as though he were returning after winning a war. They welcomed him frantically with huge garlands and congratulated him for the ‘achievement’.

In no time, the fans also took out a huge procession to rejoice his release in more than 500 motorcycles, 20 cars and auto-rickshaws, shouting, screaming and howling all along the route and irking regular commuters and passers-by on the way.

Maktum Sogalad was suspended from the Janata Dal (Secular) once the charges of rape against a minor girl became public knowledge.

The hero’s welcome accorded to the infamous politician caused a furore in civil society, which forced the authority to pull him back to jail later in the day. MN Nagaraj, Hubballi-Dharwad Police Commissioner, told newspersons later that the undertrial, who had been released on bail yesterday, had not only violated the bail conditions but also dared the administration by taking out a rally of his fans. The police have, therefore, drawn him back to jail, the officer said.