On Monday, the Karnataka High Court has stayed the construction work on the ‘tallest Jesus Christ statue in the world’ at Kapalabetta, located 80 KM from Bengaluru in Kanakapura taluk, Ramanagara district. The court stated in its order that work could not be carried out without its permission. The stay was imposed based on the PIL that alleged the land was allotted illegally by the government to fulfil the ‘selfish ends of two politicians’. The court has ordered Harobele Kapalabetta Abhivruddhi Trust to stop the project immediately.
Anthony Swamy and seven others had filed the petition against the construction of the statue a week ago. They stated that there is a negligible population of 2,000 Christians in the Kanakapura. 1,500 of these Christians live in Harobele and Nallahalli villages. The petition further stated that former Energy Minister D K Shivakumar and his brother DK Suresh, MP Bengaluru Rural constituency, started the process of the said installation in February 2017. They sent a note to the Commissioner of Ramanagar to grant 15 acres of land in Nallahalli village of Kanakapura taluk. It was noted in the petition that there was no demand for land from the Christian community of the region for any such installation.
The petitioner said that Harobele village already has a church, and there is no need to give 15-acres of land to the community. It was alleged that the DK brothers wanted to appease their vote bank and sowed seeds of religious disharmony in the region. “Without issuing a public notice for grant of land as per Section 17-A of the Karnataka Land Grant Rules, the Tahsildar submitted the report to the Deputy Commissioner that villagers have no objection for grant of gomal land. He also stated that there were no religious monuments on the said land, which is contrary to the claim made by D K Shivakumar that centuries-old Christian monuments were situated on Kapalabetta. The construction commenced after hurriedly obtaining permission from the local gram panchayat,” the petition further added.
Supreme Court judgment stated in the petition
The petition stated that from time to time, the Supreme Court had said that public property could not be transferred to private persons. The petitioner had asked the court to quash the order passed by the Kumaraswamy government to grant land for the statue with a concession of Rs. 49.50 lakh. The petitioner also stated that the construction violates the Forest Act and Environment (Protection) Act.
The story behind the tallest Jesus statue
On the Christmas Eve of 2019, Karnataka Congress MLA DK Shivakumar laid the foundation stone for the carving of the world’s tallest, 114 feet tall statue of Jesus Christ at Kapalibetta in Harobele village of Kanakapura taluk, Ramnagara. The reports suggested that he got the land sanctioned by the state government for the said statue. Two days later, the state government said that it would relook into the land by former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy as it was not a barren land and meant for grazing.
In January 2020, several Hindu organizations backed by BJP-RSS joined the ‘Kanakapura Chalo’ rally organized by Hindu Jagarana Vedike to oppose the construction of the statue. DK Shivakumar had claimed that villagers decided to build the statue and not him. In February, another rally was organized by RSS in which they called the statue construction a Christian conspiracy.