Members of Sangolli Rayanna Yuva Sene and other organisations took out a march in Belagavi on Thursday, demanding installation of statues of the 19th century freedom fighter in front of the Suvarna Soudha and in Peeranwadi village.
They walked from the Suvarna Soudha to the Deputy Commissioner’s office in the city, a distance of about nine kilometres. Mr Hiremath however, met them near the Suvarna Soudha and received a memorandum from their leaders.
Community leader K Harish Kumar, who arrived from Bengaluru along with some of his friends, alleged that the city police were trying to weaken the protest. He accused them of detaining hundreds of protesters in a private school, to stop them from participating in the protest.
District in-charge Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi met some representatives of Kuruba community organisations in Belagavi on Thursday to resolve a dispute about Sangolli Rayanna statue installation in Peeranwadi village.
He denied that Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa had promised to install the statue at a site chosen by the associations. “He has not given any such assurance. At least he has not given me any such instruction. He has only told me to find a solution that is in the interest of the community and the district,” Mr. Jarkiholi said.
He said he would announce the installation after a meeting with officials. Community leader Vivek Rao Patil and others accompanied Mr. Jarkiholi.
A deadlock has developed over the issue after some organisations demanded that the statue be placed at the Y-Junction at the intersection of the national highway and the state highway on the Belagavi – Khanapur road near the village.
Members of Sangolli Rayanna Horata Samiti, Rana Dheera Kannadigara Pade and Karnataka Rakshana Vedike have alleged that police had harassed some youth who had tried to install the statue at the junction. Some of these members took out a procession alleging that the police had unceremoniously removed the statue.
Police maintain that the statue was installed right on the national highway, in violation of rules and without the due permission from the gram panchayat or the Revenue Department. City Police Commissioner K. Thiyagarajan told the protesters that the installation would be allowed only after requisite permits from the departments concerned and a resolution by the rural local body.
“We will not object if the local people come to a consensus,’’ he told The Hindu.
Police officers say the statue was installed on a private property at the Y-Junction on the national highway. Supreme Court guidelines clearly prohibit such installations, they say.
BJP leader and MLC Adaguru Vishwanath has demanded in Bengaluru that the statue of Sangolli Rayanna be installed in front of the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi.
Sri Niranjanand Puri Swami and other heads of mutts met the Chief Minister in Bengaluru on Wednesday, to urge him to permit the installation of the statue at the place desired by the youth associations.
Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K.S. Eshwarappa is likely to visit the village on Saturday.
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