The removal of a Hanuman flag at Keragodu village in Karnataka’s Mandya district has led to political unrest with the workers of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal (Secular) and Bajrang Dal staging continuous protests on Monday, January 29, along with activists linked to other political parties. Heavy security measures have been implemented to prevent any untoward incident.
The BJP members and a few locals have accused the Congress government of being "anti-Hindu". The agitation also reached Bengaluru, with the police detaining several protesters at Mysuru Bank Circle, including opposition leader, R Ashoka.
A 'padayatra' from Keragodu village to the Mandya District Collector's office, protesting the flag removal, was also conducted by BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) on Monday. Former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy joined the protest in Mandya, alleging that the Congress government intentionally lowered the 'Hanuman dhwaja' and displayed an anti-Hindu policy.
The Bajrang Dal has reportedly called for a bandh in Mandya. In response to the protests, Section 144 has been imposed by the police and barricades were erected near the DC's office. The flex banners of Mandya MLA Ganiga Ravikumar were torn by the protesters, who held him responsible for the flag's removal.
The controversy erupted after officials replaced a Hanuman flag with the Indian National flag, citing permission from the Keregodu Gram Panchayat on the condition that only the national flag could be hoisted. Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had stated that the Gram Panchayat sanctioned the flagpole for the Karnataka flag and the Tricolor, and not a religious flag. "This incident is a pre-arranged act of the BJP and Sangh Parivar. Such a situation has been created with the intention of systematically raising the people against the state government. There is no doubt that the plot to create communal riots in Mandya is a preparation for the Lok Sabha elections by the BJP leaders," he said.
Former BJP National General Secretary, CT Ravi, addressed the media in Mandya, stating that the further course of action would be determined once the protest and siege of the DC’s office concluded. He said that the BJP has no objection to hoisting the Tricolour, but that their protest was specifically against the removal of the Hanuman flag.
“We don’t need to learn how to respect the national flag. Our struggle is against taking down the Hanuman flag. The government is claiming that the flag post is located on government land. However, Hindu activists have collected money to build the flag post. Earlier, the Congress Government had killed BJP workers by ordering golibar in Hubballi while hoisting the national flag at Idgah Maidan. The government might impose curfew. But, the people of Mandya will not fear the lathi-charge. The agitation will continue against the anti-Hindu government,” he said.