Karnataka High Court forbids construction of Jesus statue atop Kapalabetta

Published : October 20, 2020 19:27 IST

A view of the Jesus Christ statue coming up in Kapalabetta in Ramanagara district of Karnataka. Photo: K. MuraliKumar

A Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi has forbidden further construction activity without its permission atop the Kapalabetta, a hillock near Harobele village in Kanakapura taluk of Ramanagara district. The court was hearing a petition by Anthony Swamy and five others from Harobele stating that they were “pained by the illegal grant of a valuable government land for the petty, selfish, and electoral gains of two politicians [Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President D.K. Shivakumar and his brother and Bengaluru Rural Member of Parliament, D.K. Suresh], by blatant misuse of power for grabbing valuable land and putting up illegal constructions, causing immense damage to government gomal land, loss to exchequer, and causing communal disharmony”.

Harobele is one of the few Christian-majority villages in Kanakapura taluk and forms part of the electoral constituency of both Shivakumar (Kanakapura Assembly constituency) as well as Suresh (Bangalore Rural Lok Sabha contituency). Several of the village residents had formed an organisation called the Harobele Kapalabetta Development Trust (HKDT) for the purpose of constructing a 114-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ atop the hillock adjoining the village (See https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/article30652488.ece). This move has been opposed by a fringe Hindutva organisation called the Hindu Jagrana Vedike (HJV) which had organised a protest rally on January 12 this year. Members of this organisation claim that the allotment of the land was illegal and “facilitated” by Shivakumar’s political clout. The HJV has said that it opposes the “anti-national activities of Christian missionaries”.

Speaking to Frontline after the court’s decision. Chinnaraj S of the HKDT said: “While the lead petitioner is a Christian, he has been instigated by the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] because of his political opposition to D.K. Shivakumar. It is good that the matter has gone to the court and now we can present our case there. Considering that there is no illegality on the question of land ownership, we will present our argument at the next hearing on November 20. I’m confident that the court will decide in our favour. The government is also a party to the case but now with a BJP [Bharatiya Janata Part] regime in place, I don’t know what stand they will take.”

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