BENGALURU: Members from several Right wing organisations and BJP on Monday held a huge protest at Kanakapura in Ramanagara district, 80 km from here, opposing the construction of a 114-foot statue of Jesus Christ in Kapali Betta (Kapali Hills).
As the police made elaborate security arrangements, no untoward incidents were reported.
The statue, one of the tallest structures of Lord Jesus in the country, is allegedly being developed on a government land and sponsored by local legislator and senior Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar. The Congress leader, who was recently released from Tihar jail, came up with the idea of constructing Asia’s largest statue of Jesus Christ at Kapala Betta, in his constituency, Kanakapura.
Thousands of protesters, who wore saffron scarves and carried saffron flags, took part in the ‘Kanakapura Chalo’ rally, organised by the Hindu Jagaran Vedike. They marched from Ayappa Swamy temple at Kanakapura to tahsildar’s office, shouting slogans like Bharat Mata ki Jai and Jai Sri Ram.
Senior BJP leader Ashwathnarayan, who led the protest, claimed that it was successful.
“People came in thousands from neighbouring districts, taluk centres and villages. As many as 5,000 people took part in the protest,” he claimed.
“The statue of Jesus can not be built legally. There is no chance that it could be built otherwise. We will not allow the statue to come up,” he said.
Kapala Betta, also known as Muneshwara Betta, has a Muneshwara temple on top of the hill. But over a period of time, a cross was installed at the top of the hill and lighting arrangements were made.
Two years ago, a trust was formed, which decided to develop the hill by installing the statue of Christ.
Protesters accused Shivakumar of trying to turn ‘Kapali Betta’ or ‘Muneshwara Betta’, the hill on which the proposed statue is to come up, into ‘Yesu Betta’.
BJP leader and former minister C.P. Yogeshwar, who also took part in the protest, accused Shivakumar of trying to instigate communal violence to serve his “political ambitions”.
He said that the fight is against “oppressive politics” of Mr Shivakumar and his brother D.K. Suresh, who is also Bengaluru Rural MP.
Addressing the gathering, RSS functionary Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat said that the agitation is not against Jesus Christ, but against the religious conversions.
Asking Shivakumar whether he was doing it for the sake of votes, Bhat asked, “What is your intention? You want to sell this country to foreigners once again. The Hindu community is warning you. This is also an act of treason.”
Reacting to the protests, Archbishop of Bengaluru Diocese Peter Macahdo said he has requested the support of the government.
“We request the government not to make it a political or emotional issue, but be considerate on the needs and intentions of the Christian community.” He said that everyone had the right to protest.
Shivakumar said that the BJP and other organisations are targeting him to gain “political space” in Ramanagara district, which they do not have now.
Noting that people have been brought in from outside for the protest, he said that he has appealed to the people and party workers not to react and maintain peace if the protesters try to instigate and speak against him....