Communalism

Rightwing Outfits to Lead Massive Rally Against Statue of Jesus Christ in Karnataka

Kanakapura MLA D.K. Shivakumar, who had laid the foundation stone of the statue on Christmas Day, has appealed for calm.

New Delhi: Right wing organisations will on January 13, Monday, take out a massive rally at Kanakapura in the Ramnagara district in Karnataka, in protests against the construction of a statue of Jesus Christ.

Several news portals have reported that the rally is being organised by the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, an organisation whose leaders are known for making inflammatory speeches, and will see the participation of nearly 5,000 workers from the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The ‘Kanakapura Chalo’ rally will be led by senior RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, reported The Hindu.

Rightwing members have alleged that the 114-foot tall statue, which Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar had laid the foundation stone of on Christmas day, is being built on land acquired through scam. Times of India has reported that BJP leaders cried foul soon after Shivakumar’s function and pointed out that the 10 acres allotted for the statue is land reserved for cattle grazing, or gomala.

Kanakapura. Photo: Google Maps.

Shivakumar had spent his own money to buy a 10-acre government plot for the trust that is building what will be the world’s tallest monolithic statue of Jesus, his office told PTI. He has since been on the receiving end of criticism from state BJP leaders. The area is predominantly Christian.

In the meantime, the state revenue minister – the government is run by BJP – R. Ashoka has already promised that the land would be taken back. The government has ordered a probe into the provision of several facilities in the hilly area. District administration, too, has sent notices to the Harobele Kapalabetta Development Trust, which was going to construct the statue.

The state government also transferred Kanakapura tehsildar Anandaiah, reported Deccan Herald. Anandaiah had been responsible for spot inspections at the proposed site of the statue and had been preparing a report when the transfer order arrived.

Also read: Reconfiguring India’s Nationalism, One Grand Statue at a Time

Several activists – both environmental and rightwing – including Rishikumara Swami of the nearby Kali Mutt have visited the Kapalabetta hill where the statue was supposed to come up. The seer said that ‘Kapala’ implies ‘Shiva’ and therefore, the place should be a hill of Shiva, reported Deccan Herald.

Kanakapura MLA Shivakumar has, however, appealed to people in the region to stay calm amidst the tension of the impending protest rally. In a video message, Shivakumar reportedly pointed out that provocative statements could be used and remarks could be made by protesters against him and his brother, D.K. Suresh.

“Members of the (Christian) community have prayed at the site for 400 years and are trying to install a statue of Jesus Christ. I have helped the community like I aided hundreds of temples and educational institutions,” he was quoted by Deccan Herald as having said.

Meanwhile, K.T. Ullas, who is general secretary of the south Karnataka division of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, was quoted by the Hindu as having said that they have got permission from the police to hold the rally. “We will also hold a public meeting,” he said.

About 1,000 police personnel have been deployed to maintain peace during the rally, reported TOI.