BELAGAVI: A rift between Kannada and Marathi activists in Belagavi over the installation of the statue of Krantiveer Sangolli Rayanna at Peeranwadi has snowballed into a major controversy.
A group of Kannada activists hurriedly installed the statue after midnight on Friday hours after District Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi and Deputy Commissioner M G Hiremath had assured them that the government will find a suitable spot for it at Peeranwadi.
Tension prevailed in Peeranwadi on Friday morning as several people from pro-Marathi groups gathered, objecting to the installation of Rayanna's statue. For a long time, the spot where Rayanna's statue is installed has been known as Shivaji Chowk and a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is located nearby.
Pro-Marathi groups in Peeranwadi were against having the statue of Rayanna in their area. However, pro-Kannada activists had attempted to install the statue of Rayanna a week ago but failed in their attempt with the police preventing them. Later, Kannada activists from across the state launched a protest march on Friday afternoon in front of the Suvarna Vidhan Soudha.
When the protesters were heading towards DC office via B S Yediyurappa Road, Jarkiholi and Hiremath met them and assured that they would find a suitable spot for Rayanna's statue within a few days and ensure that it is installed there.
On their assurance, the protest was called off on Friday afternoon. In the meantime, a group of Kannada activists took a statue of Rayanna to Peeranwadi after midnight and installed it at the
When the news of the installation of statue spread in Belagavi, several pro-Marathi activists also brought a statue of Shivaji and attempted to install it at the same spot. A team of police prevented
them from installing the statue.
Even as the police were trying to pacify the mob at Peeranwadi, a group of people hurled stones allegedly on some persons who were moving on a bike holding pro-Kannada flags.
Belagavi police commissioner K Tyagarajan has said that measures would be taken to resolve the issue over the statue by holding discussions with the Deputy Commissioner and other officials concerned. He said the police had to resort to a mild lathi-charge to control the two groups which gathered at the same spot at Peeranwadi.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Seema Latkar said attempts were on to hold talks with the Marathi groups to resolve the issue smoothly.