A seer in Karnataka was arrested on Tuesday, January 18, for his alleged statement in a video demanding the demolition of a historic mosque at Srirangapatna on the lines of Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid and construction of a Hanuman temple in its place, police said. According to police, the seer Rishi Kumar, who headed the Kali Mutt in Chikkamagaluru was arrested and brought to Srirangapatna on Tuesday. Rishi Kumar had visited Srirangapatna to attend the last rites of a child artist, who had died in a road accident a couple of days ago, they added.
Standing in front of the mosque, which is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), he said this structure should also be razed like the Babri mosque, police said. He had also claimed in the video that the pillars, walls and kalyani (water body) inside the premises of mosque symbolise Hindu architecture.
The video was put out on his social media account and it drew sharp reactions. Following this, Srirangapatna police went to the mutt located in Chikkamagalur district and took Rishi Kumar into custody and presented him before the local court.
The counsel for the seer argued that the statements made by his client are not controversial. "He had put out his pain after seeing the traces of temples in the mosque," the advocate stated. However, the counsel for the government argued that his bail petition should not be considered in view of his release leading to communal disharmony and destruction of evidence. The court has reserved the judgment for Wednesday, January 19.
The statement came at a time when the Karnataka government, which recently passed an anti-conversion Bill in the Assembly, also expressed its wish to ‘free temples’ from state control.