Bengaluru: Communal peace at risk over Jesus statue

BENGALURU: Is there a sinister conspiracy to disturb communal harmony in Harobele town in Kanakapura constituency, about 60 kilometres from Bengaluru where Congress leader and former minister D.K. Shivakumar is planning the tallest statue of Jesus Christ in Asia? Going by the fact that the BJP and pro-Hindutva outfits have organised several protests against the statue project, it seems like attempts are being made to stir the communal cauldron and spoil peace in the region.

“Not a single communal incident has taken place in Kanakapura and its surroundings for decades. There were no Hindu-Muslim riots even when the whole nation was burning. You cannot differentiate between Christians and Hindus here as they are farmers and look  exactly the same,” explains Marasappa Ravi, a social worker from Kanakapura.

The population here were provided education and hospital facilities by the church before the government could do it. Congress leader  Shivakumar’s sister was born in a Christian hospital in Harobele where more than 20 people have become fathers and 200 women, nuns of the church.

They are serving in various parts of the state. “Shivakumar has granted funds to 200 plus temples and masjids in Kanakapura, the local Hindu outfits know this,” Ravi disclosed.

Chinnaraj S., a local parishioner is aghast after hearing about the BJP’s claim that they will not allow the statue to come up.

He is even willing to pose a challenge to Hindus in surrounding villages to prove that there was a temple at Kapala Betta or that Hindu rituals were being conducted there.

“The government has given thousands of acres to educational and religious institutions. Section 24 of the Land Grant Act gives them power in this regard. Accordingly, the state cabinet had cleared the land allotment for us. The Kapala Hill is attached to Harobele village and people have installed 14 crosses to symbolise the last journey of Jesus along the stretch of the hill,” he explains.

“We want to build the tallest statue in the country as granite is amply available in the area. What is wrong with that,” he wonders.

More than 500 Christian families live in Harobele and DK Nagar near Kapala Hill. Like the rest of Kanakapura constituency, the villages here too follow the diktat of D.K. Shivakumar to the hilt. However, it remains to be seen if the current crisis will tear apart communal amity in the town.

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