The District Commissioner says the land belongs to the Revenue Department, the Christian community says it was officially handed over to them in September 2019.

 Bengaluru Christian community alleges local officials removed Jesus statue without cause
news Controversy Wednesday, March 04, 2020 - 16:37

A statue of Jesus Christ, along with several crosses, was removed by local officials in an anti-encroachment drive in Devanahalli, Bengaluru Rural. The move has sparked controversy as the Christian community alleges that the land had been used as a burial ground for several years.

The drive took place on Tuesday at the behest of local police and taluka officials, the Bengaluru Rural district administration confirmed.

Speaking to TNM, Deputy Commissioner PN Ravindra, said, “Some people had installed the Jesus statue and other structures on Revenue Department land. Yesterday, the tahsildar and police officials removed all the materials after making a decision.”

However, the removal has upset the city’s Christian community, including the Archbishop of Bengaluru. They claim that the statue was installed on the land, being used as a cemetery, about four or five years ago at Doddasagarahalli hillock. The land had been officially handed over to St Joseph’s Church in September 2019, they said.  

Kanthraj, the spokesperson for the Archbishop of Bengaluru, said, “We have taken strong note of the development. We will take legal action against the people who are involved in removing the statue. The land was officially given to us in September 2019. The Deputy Commissioner had given the land to the tahsildar, then he, in turn, gave it to the gram panchayat and the GP, in turn, gave the land to the St Joseph’s Church. This 4.2 acre-land was meant to be used as a cemetery.”

He added, “In the burial ground, as you can see any Christian burial ground, you will see a Jesus statue and crucifix. Incidentally, this land has got a hillock, which we had tentatively converted into a calvary, where we pray during the Lent season. This statue has been there for the last four-five years and there was never a problem. Now suddenly, the government is saying, ‘how can we have a statue on a burial ground?’”

“The Christian Community erected Christ's statue to protect its sanctity, and people are also conducting the Way of the Cross to meditate on the suffering and death of Christ, especially during the Holy Season of Lent,” he said. 

Kanthraj further added that around two weeks ago, there was an inter-religious meeting called by the tahsildar, where it was made clear that there was communal harmony in the area. He further claims that the trouble is being stirred by outside forces. 

“It is only people from outside who are instigating and trying to create problems there. And now the tahsildar, without even serving any notice, bought the JCB (earthmover) and pulled down the statue. We, the Christian community, are deeply hurt by this irresponsible act,” Kanthraj said.

The controversy in rural Bengaluru comes after the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad) recently staged a massive rally in Kanakapura in Ramanagara district, on the other side of Bengaluru city over another state of Jesus in January. In Kanakapura, it was announced that the Christian community wanted to erect the tallest Jesus statue in the world to which these groups had firmly objected. Incidentally, senior MLA and former minister DK Shivakumar had promised to contribute Rs 10 lakh of his personal funds to the same.

Read: 'We don't want Jesus statue': RSS, VHP protest against proposed statue in Karnataka

However, a little more than a week after work on the statue began, the Revenue Department had found multiple discrepancies in the land allotted to the Harobele Kapalibetta Development Trust by the local authorities.

Read: Land allocation for Jesus statue in Bengaluru outskirts violated multiple laws?

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