Tension prevails in Karnataka's Belagavi district over installation of statue; police lathicharge to disperse crowd

Marathi-speaking residents in the Peeranwadi area objected to the statue of Sangolli Rayanna as they want to install a statue of Shivaji at the same spot

Press Trust of India August 28, 2020 20:26:35 IST
Tension prevails in Karnataka's Belagavi district over installation of statue; police lathicharge to disperse crowd

Belagavi: Tension prevailed at a village in Belagavi district bordering Maharashtra on Friday, with a section of people objecting to installation of a statue of 18th century warrior and freedom fighter Sangolli Rayanna.

Police resorted to lathi charge to bring the situation under control.

According to official sources, some admirers of Rayanna installed his statue at a road junction in Peeranwadi during the intervening night of Thursday and Friday.

A section of others raised objections as the news spread, leading to tension in the area.

Those objecting, largely Marathi-speaking, are opposed to the location where they want to install a statue of Maratha ruler Shivaji, after whom the circle is named.

They also have apprehensions that its name too may be changed in future.

Realising that the situation was turning tense with some skirmish breaking out, police used batons to disperse the gathered crowd.

According to officials, they also tried to calm the protesters stating that the statue has been installed without requisite permission and the issue can be dealt with legally.

An FIR has been booked in this regard and action will be taken, they said. Additional forces have been called in to avoid the situation spiralling out of control.

Reacting to the incident, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa in Bengaluru said, he has spoken to Belagavi Deputy Commissioner and other officials and has given them necessary instructions.

"I have told officials that without differentiating between Kannadigas and Marathi people, the situation should be handled delicately and issues should be resolved... everything is peaceful now, everyone is cooperating. I thank the people for this.. everything will be resolved," he told reporters.

Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said police have taken stringent measures to control the situation, and that he has spoken to Belagavi Police Commissioner and IG, also ADGP Law and Order is visiting the area.

"All necessary police bandobast is being made..." he said, adding that the administration was taking all efforts to resolve things peacefully by taking everyone into confidence.

On 15 August, police thwarted attempts to install Rayanna's statue there, citing absence of permission from the authorities for the same, and also Supreme Court directions against such moves near highways.

This had led to protests in different parts of Karnataka by pro-Kannada organisations, especially in Belagavi, which has a sizable Marathi-speaking population.

District in-charge minister Ramesh Jarkiholi had said on Thursday that a decision to install the statue will be taken on 29 August within legal parameters and as per the guidelines of Supreme Court.

Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Siddaramaiah said he has spoken to Belagavi district in-charge minister, deputy Commissioner and Police Commissioner, asking asked them to deal with the situation carefully.

Alleging that the government by neglecting the Sangolli Rayanna statue issue has allowed it to become controversial, in a statement he said there can be no compromise on the issue of state's land, water, language and people who are its pride.

"I also appeal to Kannada organisations and admirers of Rayanna to be patient and cooperate in resolving the issue," he added.

JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy hit out at a section of Marathi people for protesting against the statue of Rayanna and said there is no need for anyone else's approval for installing the statue of a great freedom fighter.

In a series of tweets, he said whether it is Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti or Shiv Sena or someone else, if anyone insults Rayanna, the brave son of this land, it is like testing the patience of Kannadigas, and warned that they don't tolerate such things.

"There can be no compromise on the issue of the state's land, water, language and border...," he added.

Sangolli Rayanna (1798-1831) was the army chief of the erstwhile Kittur Kingdom ruled by Rani Chennamma and fought against the British who hanged him to death from a Banyan tree near Nandagad in Belagavi district in 1831.

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