Right-wing organisations led by Hindu Jagaran Vedike marched on Monday to protest the Karnataka government’s decision to allot land for the construction of a 114-foot statue at Kapalbetta in Kanakpura taluka of Ramanagara district. The protesters chanted ‘Jai Sriram’ and ‘Rakta Kottevu, Kapalabetta kodalla’ (We will give our blood, but not Kapalabetta)’ during the march.
Now, the Sangh parivar has issued an ultimatum to the state government to withdraw the land grant by January 25. Newsclick quoted the resolution passed by the Sangh to say, “If you (state government) don’t act by January 25, we will step out to protest and won’t stop till we succeed.” They have also demanded that cases be filed against officials who granted the permission, and also that a strong anti-conversion law be brought about in the state.
Meanwhile 800 families have donated Rs 1,00,000/- for construction of the statue. Harobele village, where the statue is expected to be installed is located in the constituency of Congress leader DK Shivakumar who had used his own funds to purchase 10 acres of land from the government for the project. He laid the foundation stone on December 25 last year.
At the protest rally right-wing leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat was quoted by the Times of India as saying that while he wasn’t against Christ, he was against forced conversions. He also questioned the Congress leader’s intentions and threatened him saying, “You want to sell the country once again to the foreigners? We’re warning you; we’ll drown you in the Arkavathy reservoir.”
Meanwhile News 18 reported that the village is home to 3,500 Christian families. Locan Christians claim this has been their home for over 350 years, with earliest Christian settlements dating back to 1662. Hindus in the area also have no objection to the construction of the statue. There have also not been any conversions as alleged by the Sangh.
Given the current regime’s proximity to groups that have been associated with serious instances of extreme violence against Christians such as the Kandhamal riots or the murder of Graham Staines and his two sons in Odisha, it remains to be seen if Karnataka will become a flash-point for anti-minority violence.