The Right-wing organisations on Monday have given an ultimatum to the Karnataka government to reverse its decision of allotting land for the proposed 114-foot statue of Jesus Christ at Kapalabetta in Kanakapura taluk which comes under the Ramanagara district. The state government has been given time till January 25 by the Sangh Parivar.
As part of the on going protests against the proposed statue of Jesus, hundreds of members of Hindu Jagarana Vedike—one of the religious fronts of RSS—on Monday took out a march: Kanakapura Chalo. After the march, the Sangh has even passed a resolution that reads: “If you (state government) don’t act by January 25, we will step out to protest and won’t stop till we succeed.”
The resolution also urges to stop the ongoing activities related to the statue at the Kapalabetta. It demands that cases be booked against the officials who are responsible for allowing the construction and has also asked for a strong anti-conversion law.
The members who took out the march chanting ‘Jai Sriram’ and ‘Rakta Kottevu, Kapalabetta kodalla’ (We will give our blood, but not Kapalabetta)’ said that if the government is not ready to fulfill their demands, they would change the strategy.
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The proposed statue atop a 114-feet pedestal is coming up at Kapalibetta in Harobele village, a predominantly Christian locality in Kanakapura, the Assembly constituency of Shivakumar. The office of Shivakumar had earlier said that utilising his own funds, the Congress leader had purchased 10 acres at Kapalabetta from the government for the trust that is constructing the statue and claimed it would become the tallest monolithic statue of Jesus in the world.
On December 25, Shivakumar had laid the foundation at a prayer meet and handed over the title deed for the project. Shivakumar has claimed that the Kumaraswamy government, of which he was
a part, had cleared the land and he had paid money for it.
Addressing the march, Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, a right-wing ideologue, said: “Let me remind Shivakumar, it (India) is a land of Krishna and not Christ and we will not allow the Christ statue to be erected on Kapalabetta.”
“What is your intention?” Bhat questioned Shivakumar,. adding: “You want to sell the country once again to the foreigners? We’re warning you; we’ll drown you in the Arkavathy reservoir.”
He further added: “Do not mistake the magnanimity of Hindus to be their weakness. The community is now awakened and will not tolerate oppression any more. Shivakumar must understand that it’s time to make statues of Basavanna, Rama and Kalabhairaveshwara abroad and not bring Christ to India.”
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Later responding to reporters’ questions, Bhat said, “If they are still adamant on going ahead with the statue, we will show the strength of the Hindu community. We will fight against any activity against Hindu community.”
A row had arisen in the state over construction of the statue with the ruling BJP terming it ‘an appeasement policy’, and the state government seeking a report from authorities on the status of the land earmarked for the project.
The protest now reportedly indicates the growing communal divide in the state.
However, according to a report by News18, majority of the Hindus in the area have no opposition to the installation of statue. In fact, they say, “The Christians have been living here for centuries and there has not been any issue with them.”
The local Christians also claim that they have been living there for over 350 years and the “disputed” Kapalabetta has been a site of worship for them for over one hundred years. If we go back to the history, they reveal that first ever record of Christian settlement can be found in 1662 AD.
In Harobele, which is home to about 3,500 Christians, almost all are born in Christian families. “There has been no conversion in the area. Our population was about 1,000 in the 18th century. It has now gone up to about 3,500. Is it not natural?” they ask.
Clearly the locals dismiss the claims of RSS and say that it is aiming at creating trouble in a peaceful area.
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Lamenting at the RSS and BJP for trying to engineer communal conflict and for preventing the religious activities of Christians, former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, who once represented the same area in Lok Sabha, said that “Christians have every right to build a Church or install a statue of Jesus Christ just like Hindus had the right to build a temple or install the statue of a god or goddess.”
“The BJP-affiliated people have destroyed 19 churches and burnt two children alive in Orissa in the late 1990s. What more can you expect from them?” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)