Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Sunday, December 19, appealed to people to respect iconic personalities and avoid lending ears to rumours, after miscreants targeted statues of freedom fighter Sangolli Rayanna and Shivaji in Belagavi and Bengaluru. Tension prevailed in Belagavi bordering Maharashtra on Saturday, December 19 after alleged activists of Maharashtra Ekikarana Samiti (MES) vandalised the statue of Rayanna, a 19th century icon who fought against the British, at Angol in south Belagavi, following news that a statue of Shivaji has been damaged in Bengaluru.
"I appeal to people to respect patriots. They had laid down their lives for the nation. As a mark of respect, the statues of Kittur Rani Chennamma, Sangolli Rayanna and Shivaji Maharaj were built. We have to respect them and retain their dignity," Bommai said. "Be it Chatrapati Shivaji, Kittur Rani Chenamma or Veera Sangoli Rayanna, all of them fought against colonial forces for the freedom of our country," he tweeted earlier.
"Insulting any of our great national leaders in the name of language politics is disservice to their nationalistic spirit and will not be tolerated. Under no circumstances will we let miscreants disrupt law and order in Karnataka," Bommai said.
He asked people not to mix other issues to demean the contribution of historical figures.
"Our government will not tolerate anyone insulting the patriots and disturbing law and order in the state. Convey your sentiments peacefully. Whoever they are, we will deal with them with iron hand," Bommai told reporters.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said strict action has been taken against the miscreants who damaged the statue of Sangolli Rayanna. The Minister said Marathi and Kannada speaking people are living in harmony in areas bordering Belagavi but some miscreants, who are "not even the dust" of great personalities, damaged their statues.
He also said that he is in touch with the police officials in Bengaluru and Belagavi to ensure that law and order is maintained.
Meanwhile, the district administration has clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in Belagavi till Monday, December 20 morning. So far, 27 people have been arrested for vandalising Sangolli Rayanna's statue, and they have been remanded to judicial custody for 14 days.