Tensions flared in Keragodu village of Karnataka's Mandya district over hoisting a Hanuman flag in the village and the subsequent orders by government officials to remove the flag. The public unrest and protests led to a law and order situation on Sunday, January 28, and the police resorted to lathi charge and arrests. Last week, a group of village residents erected a flagpole to hoist the National flag. However, some residents unfurled a Hanuman flag instead of the Indian tricolor flag on the 108-foot flagpole.
Initially sanctioned by the village panchayat to raise the national flag, the unexpected substitution sparked outrage among certain village residents. Subsequently, the village officials demanded the immediate removal of the Hanuman flag, which was vehemently opposed by a group of people. Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)), and Bajrang Dal rallied alongside villagers staging a protest opposing the removal of the Hanuman flag.
However, the flag was taken down and a National flag was hoisted amidst the protest. As the crowd breached barricades, the police resorted to lathi charge and arrested several protestors, including Leader of the Opposition R Ashok and former MLA Suresh Gowda.
Following the removal of the Hanuman flag, a faction of villagers called for a 'bandh', resulting in widespread closures of shops. The BJP has further announced plans for protests across Karnataka, with a demonstration scheduled at Mysuru Bank Circle in Bengaluru.
Reacting to the issue, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah voiced his concern over the substitution of the national flag with what he described as a 'bhagwa dwaja' (saffron flag). "It is not right. I have asked (the authorities concerned) to hoist the national flag," he said.