Scam tainted Congress leader DK Shivakumar lays foundation for tallest statue of Jesus in a Karnataka village; Questions raised over ownership and timing of the move
Harobele in Kanakpura is a quaint little village on the way to the famous tourist spot of Mekedaatu on the river Cauvery. The village which was almost unknown has become a center of controversy with scam tainted Congress leader DK Shivakumar laying the foundation for a statue of Jesus on a hill in the village. Shivakumar claims that it will be the tallest statue of Jesus in the world and informed the media that the land has been transferred to a trust formed for the purpose. He said that he will personally fund the building of the statue.
The said statue is to come up on a hill traditionally known as 'Kapali Betta' and the locals have called the hill by that name for generations. However, few years ago Christian Missionaries illegally usurped the hill by installing a huge cross and named the hill as 'Yesu Betta' (Christ's Hill). The move had been questioned by many but no action seem to have been taken by the district administration.
Local sources say that the village has a number of Christian families who were converted by Evangelists over the last few decades and this move by the Congress leader is an attempt to appease them for votes. DK Shivakumar and his brother MP DK Suresh are considered the strongmen of the entire district.
DKS an Aspirant for KPCC President post
Sources in BJP say that DK Shivakumar is an aspirant for the post of the KPCC President and he is indulging in such gimmicks to placate the Congress leadership in Delhi. The post of KPCC is up for grabs after the incumbent Dinesh Gundu Rao resigned from the post following the parties pathetic performance in the Karnataka by-polls securing only 2 seats from 15. BJP won from 12 constituencies and JD(S) drew a blank.
DK Shivakumar is seen as a representative of the Vokkaliga community in the region and his clout in the community is evident during elections. However, his move to appease the Christians in the district at the cost of Vokkaligas has angered many in the community. Vokkaligas form a sizable population in Kanakpura district and this move to provide legitimacy to conversions by a prominent leader has annoyed many in the community.
BJP leaders CT Ravi and Pratap Simha have questioned DK Shivakumar over his move to install the Jesus statue in a district that has hardly any Christians and giving a fillip to conversion activities.
Ownership of land questioned
Social activist Girish Bharadwaj has petitioned the District Commissioner to look into the matter and has requested him to investigate the ownership of the land which as per records are indicated as grazing lands for cattle ('Gomala' in Kannada). The letter says that 'Gomala' is dedicated land around villages for the cattle to graze and attempts to usurp the land by Christian missionaries has to be thoroughly investigated. The move to rename the hill traditionally called as 'Kapali Betta' as 'Yesu Betta' (Christ's Hill) has also to be investigated the letter demands.
Letter requesting DC to look into the ownership of the land
Land revenue records show that the the hill and the land around it are under the government and no where it mentions DK Shivakumar as the owner. Activists are now questioning that how can he transfer the government land which is not in his name. Even if the land records online does not reflect the changes to ownership, they are questioning if DK Shivakumar had mentioned this huge tract of land being in his name in the affidavit filed with the Election Commission during the Karnataka Assembly elections.
It has come to notice that another petition filed in 2017 had questioned the attempts by Christian Missionaries to illegally rename 'Kapali Betta' as 'Yesu Betta'. The petition by Kanakpura activist HG Venkatesh had requested the District Collector to investigate into the matter where Christian Missionaries has attempted to take over the hill by illegally installing a 80 foot cross. The petition says that the residents of the village have been converted by coercion and enticements and there are no original Christians in the village.
Petition to DC in 2017 requesting attempts by Christian Missionaries to usurp the Kapali Betta
However, despite the details provided and the petition by Bharata Punarutthana Trust more than 2 years ago, no action has been taken on illegal name change and land acquisition in Harobele. An RTI has also been filed to ascertain the ownership of the land. More details are awaited.