A 62-foot tall and 750-tonne giant Hanuman statue recently transported to Kacharakanahalli in Bengaluruâ€™s HBR Layout on a 300-wheel truck has found itself in yet another controversy.
MK Jagadeesh, Assistant Commissioner of the Revenue Department, Bengaluru North has filed a complaint against 18 people including BJP leader Padmanabha Reddy at the Kadugondanahalli police station stating that the Rama Chaithanya Vardhini Trust, which commissioned the project, has chosen to install the statue on disputed land.
The land marked for the statue is on the premises of Kodandaswami Temple. Since 2015, the Muzrai Department has been locked in a dispute with the temple trust claiming that the land is a â€˜government lake areaâ€™ as per revenue records. The same year, the Karnataka High Court issued a stay order that the 'status quo' should be maintained on the disputed land.
"There is a clear stay order given by the High Court on the land but they want to install the statue on it. They had called for the stay order themselves and are now trying to violate it," explains MK Jagadeesh, who filed the complaint against 18 people for obstructing a public servant and rioting.
In the complaint, Jagadeesh states that he visited the disputed site on Monday but was stopped by members of the trust. He added that they insulted him and insisted that they will install the Hanuman statue in the contentious area in Kacharakanahalli. The Hanuman statue, which reached the disputed land on Wednesday, is yet to be installed. However, work to install the statue has been going on in the temple premises for the last few days.
The trust, backed by politicians including Reddy, is adamant about installing the statue at Survey Number 153. The temple, its two choultries, a goshala, a BDA layout and a slum are among the occupants of the area under Survey No 153 despite being listed as a 'government lake' in revenue records.
However, Muni Naga Reddy, a member of the trust, defended the decision to install the statue in the disputed area.
"They (government officials) are saying that there is a stay order. The stay order is against them and not us. The status quo in the 2015 case is related to the acquisition of the land by the Muzrai Department and not about the ownership of the land," he told TNM.
MN Reddy also added that the idea for the statue has been around for 20 years now. "It was supposed to be even bigger - 85 ft tall. Also, it is a registered trust doing it and the court had asked the Archaeological Survey of India to look into the issue. Even they had given a report in favour of the temple citing its historic value," Reddy added.
The monumental task of moving the statue has thrown up controversies ever since it was being transported to the city from Kolar.
First, the statue was stalled at Hoskote in rural Bengaluru by police over fears of poll code violation. Jagadeesh alleges that when the statue was stopped in Hoskote over fears of poll code violation, the people transporting it pledged in writing to Bengaluru Police Commissioner that the statue would be erected in Survey number 135 and not Survey Number 153 which is under contention as it comes under a lake bed area.
"They are lying to everyone. We had warned them not to go ahead with this around three months ago and yet they did not heed our warning," added Jagadeesh.
Later, the statue was stranded for hours under a railway bridge on Hennur Road in Bengaluru for hours as it was too tall to pass through. The road was then dug up to ensure the passage of the statue.
The people transporting the statue also damaged barricades and medians along the way. BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad confirmed that permission was given for the transportation of the statue on the condition that damages caused by it will be repaired in 1-2 daysâ€™ time.