Karnataka, Hindu radicals against a statue of Christ. Msgr. Machado: No to conflicts of faith

The statue was to be installed on Kapala Betta Hill.  For Hindus, it is a place sacred to the god Shiva.  The Archbishop of Bangalore explains that "Betta" means "ordeal".  The hill is the Via Crucis of the Christian community.  Msgr. Machado: "We will not make it a matter of faith".


New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hundreds of Hindu radicals protested yesterday against the installation of a statue of Christ in the Indian state of Karnataka.  The depiction of the Savior is 34.7 meters (114 feet) high and should be located in the town of Kapala Betta (Hills), in the city of Kanakapura.  The Hindus oppose the erection in this area, which they believe has ancient ties to Munieshwara, one of the incarnations of the god Shiva.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Msgr.  Peter Machado, archbishop of Bangalore, says: “We asked the government not to make the issue divisive from a religious point of view.  We understand the sentiment of the Hindu majority.  We are a minority, but we have the right to exist.  Christians have lived here for hundreds of years and the hill is used for the Way of the Cross.  In fact, the word 'Betta' means 'ordeal'.  However, we will not make it a matter of faith.  Today, in our sanctuary we celebrate the feast of the Child Jesus, and continue to pray and work for peace ".

The event was organized by the most important Hindu nationalist organizations at national level: the governing party Bjp (Bharatiya Janata Party), Vhp (Vishwa Hindu Parishad), Rss (Rashtirya Swayamsevak Sangh) and Hjv (Hindu Jagran Vedike).  The acronyms of the far right contest the act of selling the land destined to host the image of Jesus. During the rally, the leader of the RSS, Kalladaka Prabhakar Bhat, said that "we will not allow conversion activities or the construction of a  Christ statue in the Kapala hills.  If we really need a statue, it must be of Tilak, or Gandhi or of the thousands of saints [Hindu gods] of India. "

The statue should be carved out of a single piece of rock.  The date for its location has not yet been set.  It is expected to be built on 10-acre land donated by DK Shivakumar, a member of the state congress.  The politician points out that in the past he has donated other plots of land for the construction of "temples, community halls, schools and hospitals.  I believe in the equality of all religions ".  Then he added: "Nobody has ever complained before."  Deve Gowda, the former prime minister of India, has joined the congressman.  "This country - he said - belongs to everyone.  Ambedkar [the father of the Indian Constitution, ed.] Wrote laws in which he claims that we must protect all religions ”.

Archbishop Machado underlines “that the land has been legally sold and we want to resolve the issue in legal terms.  This is why we invite the Christian community to keep calm and peaceful and not to respond violently.  It is not so important to have a statue, because devotion takes place regardless.  If the law allows us to have it, we will build it.  Otherwise we won't fight.  If it were to be erected, it will support faith.  We pray for everyone.  We are Christians, we do not discriminate and we are at the service of everyone, of the majority community as well as of Christians themselves ".  (A.C.F.)