More than hundred persons representing the civil society, including historians Ramachandra Guha, Dr Usha Rao, academician Professor Janaki Nair and heritage expert Dr Meera Iyer, sought the intervention of Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in the communalisation of Begur Lake in south Bengaluru.
The civil society members have also apprised the CM about encroachments at the lake.
“Despite the Karnataka High Court prima facie finding the construction of islands on the lake illegal and also the subsequent decision of installation of a statue of Lord Shiva, individuals claiming to be from Right-wing groups unveiled the statue,” the civil society members have said in their letter.
“Even as the court was dictating the order, in an unprecedented and brazen act of defiance of the rule of law, and actions that smacked of contempt of court, a live video was webcast on the Facebook page owned by Bharath Shetty, showing some people rowing in a coracle to the island in Begur lake with the intention of uncovering the statue which BBMP had covered earlier in the day,” the letter read.
Elucidating the incidents of communalisation of the issue, the letter highlighted how one Puneeth Kerehalli in a video said, “For the development of this lake, if BBMP installs a Shiva statue here, the people of one community, the Christian community, will apparently be troubled. If anything comes in the way of this idol, if any work happens to remove this idol, if the idol moves an inch, be warned only that the consequences will be terrible.”
The Karnataka High Court had stated that those who were aggrieved by the interim orders of the court could have always challenged them or applied for intervention and modifications.
“No law enforcing agency should tolerate such behaviour. We, therefore, direct the state government to ensure that the police force is deputed to keep a constant vigil near the island created in Begur lake,” the Karnataka High Court had said in the recent order.
“If the orders passed by this court from time to time are perused, it is very clear that all the orders are intended to ensure that the existing lakes in the state are protected and the lakes which have disappeared with the passage of time are restored and rejuvenated,” the High Court said.
The Begur Lake issue “is about the legality of the action of BBMP in creating an artificial island for installing a statue of Lord Shiva. Whether an island can be constructed in a lake is also a legal and factual issue. There is no religious issue involved in this group of petitions,” the court had noted.