Report: Dalit Christian Federation

Saffron Scheme to Snatch Away Legitimately Granted Church Land

St. Jepamale Mary Church is located in Harobele village in Kanakapura taluk in Ramnagara district and it is at a distance of about 60 kms from Bangalore right on the border with Tamil Nadu. On 27 Dec 2019, the members of local units of Sangh Parivar outfits like RSS and Bajrang Dal protested outside this Church and at the site of granted land objecting to the grant of 10 acres of land by the previous Congress government, particularly at the initiative of local Congress MLA DK Shiv Kumar. They demanded that the land be taken back by the BJP government of Yediyurappa. DK Shiv Kumar however claims that though the land was sanctioned by the earlier HD Kumaraswamy government, it was not granted free. It was sold at the rate the government sells the pasture land and he personally paid for that from his own pocket as a donation to the local Christian community. The land is on a small hillock. The local Christian community is also constructing a 101-feet statue of Jesus Christ on that land and the Hindu Right outfits are incensed at such a tall and majestic monument of Jesus coming up in that area.

This is shrine has a unique significance as there is an annual replica of worship similar to Dolarosa route of Jerusalem where Jesus was made to carry the cross through 14 halts before being finally getting crucified. For this special occasion, thousands of people come from distant places in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The BJP leaders are raising objection now belatedly to communalise the issue and they descend to such a low level that they allege that Shiv Kumar was doing this to please Sonia Gandhi, a Christian.

Since this issue is emerging as a hotspot of communal tension, a team comprising Fr. Manohar Chandra Prasad, CSI and Mr Alfonsa Kennedy RC Church visited the spot-on 28 December 2019 along with a local resident, talked to locals, both Hindus and Christians and, on that basis, have come up with this report.

The history of this Shrine for which the land was granted goes back to more than 150 years. It was visited by Fr Ginnami, a French Jesuit missionary in 16th century. Further, this land was developed by the Harobele St. Jepamale Mary church for the past 150 years. The Dolarosa  (of Jerusalem in Holy land) way of the holy cross or the 14 wayside stations of Good Friday prayers were being held here for the past 150 years with jathra in the form of a mela. 

The Church authorities wanted to develop this land further and made request to Mr. D K Shivakuar MLA Kanakapura and Mr D K Suresh MP Bangalore north. The land was sanctioned to the trust and the development work is going for the huge Jesus Statue of 114 feet, which can be viewed from within the borders of Tamil Nadu. 

On 26th Dec 2019, prayers were conducted by local fathers and sisters on this spot. Next day, on 27th Dec 2019, the RSS outfits created a ruckus here and disturbed the peace of the worshipers, among whom were both Hindus and Muslims.

On 28 December, the fact-finding team’s press conference was attended by huge number of people from all faiths and they too disapproved the communal act.

The members of the fact-finding team said that the local Christian community members informed them that the government should arrange security for them and also for the shrine and clarify that the land was allotted in a fair manner and reassure them that the land would not be taken back.

Signed: [Rev. Dr. D. Manohar Chandra Prasad.]
Other team members:  Mr Kennedy & Mr Rayappa 

Dalit Christian Federation
Rev. Dr. D. Manohar Chandra Prasad, Convenor      Mr Basavaraj Kavital, Co-ordinator                 

831, Rachana, SRS Double Road, Peenya, Bangalore 560058.
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Jan 2, 2020