In order to quell the unrest, police resorted to a mild lathi charge.

 

Mandya: Keragodu village here faced tense moments on Sunday, January 28, after the authorities removed a ‘Hanuma dwaja’, a saffron flag bearing Lord Hanuman’s portrait, from a 108-foot-tall flag post. The incident led to a political confrontation between the government and the Opposition party.

A large contingent of police personnel was deployed as a precautionary measure when people from the village and its surroundings, along with members of the BJP, JD(S), and Bajrang Dal, gathered to protest against the removal of the flag.

In order to quell the unrest, police resorted to a mild lathi charge. Subsequently, the police and administration replaced the Hanuma dwaja with the national tricolor on the flagpole.

BJP, JD (S) involved

Official and police sources indicated that residents of Keragodu and 12 neighboring villages, along with certain organizations, had funded the installation of the flag post near Rangamandira. Reportedly, BJP and JD (S) workers were actively involved in this initiative.

They raised a saffron flag featuring Hanuman’s image, prompting opposition from some individuals who filed a complaint with the administration. Acting on the complaint, the taluk panchayat executive officer directed the gram panchayat officials to remove the flag.

Several villagers, including a significant number of women, vehemently protested against the removal. Some activists and villagers stayed vigilant even after midnight on Saturday, fearing that the flagpole would be removed.

Tension persisted on Sunday morning, leading to a heated exchange between the police and protesting villagers and activists as the cops removed the saffron flag in the presence of senior district officials.

Some protesters directed their anger towards the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government and Mandya Congress MLA Ganiga Ravikumar, chanting slogans against them.

They refused to relent and affixed a flex board featuring a portrait of Lord Ram along with a smaller saffron flag at the base of the flagpole. Attempts to resist removal were made when the police intervened. Slogans of ‘Jai Sri Ram, Jai Hanuman’ filled the air.

Saffron flag replaced by tricolour

By late afternoon, police forcibly removed the protesters, again resorting to lathi charge. The police and administration finally raised the tricolor on the flagpole from which the Hanuma dwaja had been removed.

In response to the developments, chief mSiddaramaiah, speaking to reporters in the district headquarters town of Chitradurga, stated that instead of hoisting the national flag, a Bhagwa dwaja (saffron flag) had been raised. “It is not right. I have asked to hoist the national flag.”

Mandya district in-charge minister N Cheluvarayaswamy clarified that the flagpole’s location fell under the panchayat’s jurisdiction, and permission was obtained to hoist the national flag, which was done on Republic Day, “but it was replaced by another flag that evening.”

However, he expressed readiness to support the installation of the Hanuman flag at a private place or near a temple.

“There may be politics behind it (the installation of the Hanuman flag replacing the National Flag). I don’t know who is behind it. This country works under democracy and the Constitution.

“Tomorrow they may say they want to hoist the flag (the saffron flag) in front of the DC’s office. Can it be allowed? If it is permitted at one place, it will extend to other places. This is the only reservation,” he said.

“We are not here to hurt our youth. I have spoken to officials, police, and youths. We are ready to install the Hanuman flag in a private place or near a temple. We will support them. We too are Rama Bhaktas,” he added.

Govt is anti-Rama : BJP

Leader of Opposition and BJP leader R Ashoka in Bengaluru condemned the government’s “anti-Hindu stance” and police intervention, stating that the Hanuma dwaja was raised with the gram panchayat’s approval, but the Congress government “all of a sudden” removed it.

Labeling the government’s action an anti-Rama stand and an insult done to Lord Hanuman, he asked. “What was the need for police action? Why didn’t the administration speak to the villagers? There was a panchayat resolution to allow the flag.”

Ashoka visited Keragodu village along with other BJP leaders.

State BJP president BY Vijayendra accused the government of removing the flag using “police oppression” and creating a situation for law and order to deteriorate.

“If the state government dares to remove the flag using police oppression and goondaism, it shows the height of the Congress government’s arrogance of power,” he said.

Source: Siasat Daily