New Delhi, February 18 (KMS): Two days after a 20-feet Jesus statue was demolished by the Kolar district administration of Karnataka, Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bangalore, has alleged that it was pulled down in violation of court directives, and no written notice was served on persons concerned before the impending action.
According to locals, the district administration accompanied by nearly 400 policemen reached Gokunte village – which is just two kilometres from Andhra Pradesh border – in the wee hours on Thursday, February 15, to pull down the statue which had been existing since 2004. Except for the four families in the village, which has a population of around 600, the rest in the village follow the Roman-Catholic faith.
Machado alleged that the administration went ahead with the demolition despite the fact that the said land (of two acres) on which the statue stood belonged to a church, which had necessary documents to that effect. The demolition was carried out because the “local authorities considered them as not proper or incomplete”, he added.
The archbishop also alleged that the demolition was carried out even though there was a stay order on the demolition from a trial court. “In spite of stay order and best efforts to help the local tehsildhar, Ms. Shobitha, to understand the directives of the court, she refused to cooperate and even to share fresh directives of the court if any,” he said in a press statement released on Thursday, February 17.
He said, “Even if assuming that the structures were not fully authorised, the government could have had magnanimity to regularise them”, considering that they had existed for long.
“Isn’t it true that the Karnataka government has recently introduced a bill to protect unauthorised religious structures built on government lands not be demolished in Karnataka? Is this privilege applicable only to certain religious groups and not for minority communities? Are there no other communities of other religions who have illegal structures on public or government properties? Why this discriminatory attitude towards the Christian Community only?” he asked.
According to Machado, in addition to Jesus statue, “14 Stations of Cross” were also demolished in the same Gokunte village.
“Statue to the ground, which has seriously affected not only the sentiment s of the Christian community but also the people of other faiths. It was heartbreaking to see hundreds of people shedding their tears,” he said.