The controversy surrounding the removal of a saffron flag featuring Lord Hanuman's image from a 108-ft tall flag post in Keragodu has escalated, triggering protests and demands for its reinstatement. Villagers and activists persisted in their demonstration, intensifying tensions in the village after a day of robust protests and police intervention.
The incident has spurred a political clash, with the opposition BJP-JD(S) challenging the Congress government over the removal of the "Hanuman Dhwaja." Police had to resort to mild lathi charge on Sunday to control the agitated crowd, raising the Tricolour in place of the saffron flag.
In a show of dissent, protesters, led by BJP leaders C T Ravi and Preetham Gowda, marched from Keragodu to the Deputy Commissioner's office in Mandya. Holding saffron flags and chanting "Jai Sri Ram," they expressed their disapproval of the Congress government, leading to a mild lathi charge by the police when some protesters reportedly targeted a flex displaying the image of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and other Congress leaders.
Amid the protests, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah accused the BJP and JD(S) of exploiting the issue for political gains in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. He clarified that the intervention occurred because permission was granted only for hoisting the national and Kannada flags, not the saffron flag. Responding to allegations of being "anti-Hindu," Siddaramaiah asserted his Hindu identity and love for people of all religions.
The involvement of Opposition leaders like R Ashoka (BJP) and H D Kumaraswamy (JD(S)) in the protests was criticized by Siddaramaiah as an attempt to incite the public. The Chief Minister argued that if the conditions for permission were adhered to, the district administration wouldn't have intervened.
The protests in Keragodu, joined by a significant number of women, continue with the demand for the re-hoisting of the saffron flag. Slogans against the district administration and the Congress government, along with "Jai Sri Ram" chants, echoed in the demonstrations.
Security measures have been heightened in Keragodu, with barricades around the flagpole and CCTV cameras installed to prevent any untoward incidents. The ongoing protests have led to a voluntary shutdown in the village, with shops and establishments remaining closed.
Simultaneously, BJP leaders and workers held protests at district headquarters, condemning the alleged "anti-Hindu policy" of the Congress government and accusing it of disrespecting the national flag. In Bengaluru, BJP staged a protest at Mysuru Bank circle, resulting in detentions by the police due to lack of permission for the demonstration.
(With Agency Inputs)