Bengaluru: Tension was reported from Karnataka’s temple town of Sringeri after a piece of cloth resembling the flag of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) was found atop a statue of the revered 8th century philosopher, Adi Sankaracharya.
Angry local leaders of the ruling BJP are alleging the flag belongs to the SDPI and was planted on the statue, demanding a detailed investigation into the incident. Local party leaders are claiming that miscreants are inciting people in the area in the backdrop of the Bengaluru riots that took place late Tuesday.
According to reports, Shankaracharya devotees led by former MLA D.N. Jeevaraj staged a protest after spotting the ‘flag’ on the statue and demanded action.
“Sringeri is a holy town. The statue of Adi Sankaracharya is sacred. This flag belonging to the SDPI that was found on top of the statue is an act by miscreants to try and provoke us,” said D. N. Jeevaraj, former BJP MLA from Sringeri. “We demand a detailed probe by the police. We will not accept any form of insult to our religion.”
Chikkamagaluru Superintendent of Police Hakkay Akshay Machindra told ThePrint over the phone that they have registered a case and are investigating if the flag really belongs to the SDPI or any other organisation.
“The flag has the colours blue, red and green. It looks similar to the one that represents the SDPI,” Machindra said. “It is not the traditional green Islamic flag but we cannot say anything for certain until we complete our investigation.”
The SP added, “The cloth could have flown from anywhere. We are analysing CCTV footage to confirm whether anybody has done this to create tension. We are handling it responsibly as it involves a lot of emotions between communities.”
Sringeri in Chikkamagaluru district is a place of pilgrimage where Adi Shankaracharya is said to have instituted the first mutt along the banks of Tunga river.
Not our flag: SDPI
The SDPI, however, said it has nothing to do with the piece of cloth found on the statue.
The party’s Karnataka state president Elyas Muhammed Thumbe called it an attempt to frame the organisation at a time when situation is tense after the Bengaluru riots.
“It is not our flag. Go to our website and compare it,” he told ThePrint. “All this is being done by the Sangh Parivar to frame us. Our party does not even have a unit in Sringeri, so where will our flag come from? It may have been a flag of a local masjid that could have flown in the wind. The Sangh Parivar and the BJP are trying to create communal tension, not us.”
BJP leaders are meanwhile claiming “Islamic organisations” are disrupting peace in the state.
Condemning the Sringeri incident, Udupi-Chikkamagaluru BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje tweeted: “Serious action will be taken against those who are behind this incident!”
Intolerance of SDPI is touching peak!
Anti social elements are inciting people to propagate their sinister agendas.
I condemn the incident of planting SDPI flags on Sri Shankaracharya's statue at Sringeri, serious action will be taken against those who are behind this incident! pic.twitter.com/j1S337SR0Z
— Shobha Karandlaje (@ShobhaBJP) August 13, 2020
Culture and Tourism Minister C.T. Ravi, who is also an MLA from Chikkamagaluru, sought a thorough investigation.
ಶೃಂಗೇರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಶ್ರೀ ಶಂಕರಾಚಾರ್ಯರ ಪ್ರತಿಮೆಯ ಮೇಲೆ ಎಸ್ಡಿಪಿಐ ಧ್ವಜ ಹಾರಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಎಂಬ ವಿಷಯ ತಿಳಿದು ಬಂದಿದ್ದು ಜಿಲ್ಲಾ ಪೊಲೀಸ್ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಅಧಿಕಾರಿಗಳಿಗೆ ತನಿಖೆ ನಡೆಸಿ ತಪ್ಪಿತಸ್ಥರ ಮೇಲೆ ಕ್ರಮ ಕೈಗೊಳ್ಳುವಂತೆ ಸೂಚಿಸಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ಕಾನೂನು ಸುವ್ಯವಸ್ಥೆ ಕಾಪಾಡಲು ಎಲ್ಲರೂ ಸಹಕರಿಸಿ🙏
— C T Ravi 🇮🇳 ಸಿ ಟಿ ರವಿ (@CTRavi_BJP) August 13, 2020