Pro-Hindu groups conducted a massive rally at Kanakapura in Ramanagara district of Karnataka on Monday in protest against the plan by local MLA DK Shivakumar to erect a tall statue of Jesus Christ.
The call for the protest was issued by the Hindu Jagrana Vedike. Senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat addressed the crowd of protesters belonging to the RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Hindu Jagrana Vedike (HJV) and other pro-Hindu organisations.
"There is a big responsibility on Hindus. We don't want a statue of Jesus Christ. But instead we can erect a statue of Pejawar Swami or Basaveshwara Swami or Balagangadhara Swami, or someone else who has worked for this nation. Hindus have only one nation - India," Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat said while speaking at the protest march.
The protesters alleged that the land on which the 114-foot statue was proposed to be built in Harobele village of Ramanagara was not a barren one as claimed by DK Shivakumar. Revenue Minister R Ashoka had earlier stated that the land allotted was gomal (grazing) land and that the state government is reviewing the land allotted for the statue. The Ramanagara district administration has sent notices to the Harobele Kapalabetta Development Trust, which was going to construct the statue.
Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat addressing a rally in Kanakapura, Ramanagara
Speaking to ANI, DK Shivakumar said, "Someone called Prabhakar, I don't know who is this. I am not familiar with him but he or even the Chief Minister or other ministers can go to the place and examine the land in Harobele. There is nothing wrong in that. They don't know about our district. When I was the Culture Minister, we initiated the project for a statue of Balagangadharanatha Swamiji and allocated Rs 25 crore for when the Kumaraswamy-led government was in power. There was another statue of Shivakumara Swamiji sanctioned as well on grazing land," Shivakumar said.
Shivakumar has previously stated that he will be paying Rs 10.80 lakh from his personal funds towards the cost of the land for the statue of Jesus Christ. Shivakumar is the MLA of Kanakapura constituency.
A bronze statue of Lingayat seer Shivakumara Swami was sanctioned in Veerapura in Magadi taluk of the district. A bronze statue of Balagangadhara Swami was sanctioned in Bidadi while a granite statue of Jesus Christ was sanctioned in Harobele, where 99% of the population is Christian. Shivakumar has said that Christians have been praying at the site for more than 4 centuries and justified the decision to erect a Jesus Statue.
Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, a top RSS leader was in news recently after he and other members of the governing body of the Sri Rama Vidyakendra High School in Dakshina Kannada district were booked by the police. The FIR was registered after the school students were made to enact the 1992-Babri demolition in a play.