KAPALA BETTA, KANAKAPURA TALUK: As you turn left from Maralkuppe in Kanakapura, towards Harobele dam, a flex announces, ‘Way to Kapala Betta’. Another flex next to it cautions, ‘This area is under CCTV surveillance’.
A day after a massive protest by members of right-wing organisations and senior leaders from the ruling BJP, uneasy calm prevails at Kapala Betta. Here, work on the 114-ft statue of Jesus Christ, that the community members were planning to put up, has been stopped.
A hillock near Harobele dam in Kanakapura, some 60km from Bengaluru, has grabbed the attention of both the state and the nation, ever since former minister DK Shivakumar, who is also Kanakapura MLA, laid the foundation for the statue on top of the hill on Christmas Day. Ever since, ruling BJP members, leaders and ministers have been criticising Shivakumar. On Monday, BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad members took out a massive rally here, expressing their opposition.
Earlier, a mud road led to the hilltop where a huge cross has been erected, and locals trek up on the first Friday and every Sunday of the month to offer prayers. The road is damaged, and not fit for vehicles. The only way to reach the hilltop is by foot — and it’s a pretty hard trek, with no steps and uneven rocks in between. It takes 40 minutes from the base of the hill to the top.
A few metres away from the cross is a platform on which a lifesize statue of Christ stands, placed there symbolically before the actual one comes up.
A couple of policemen from Sathanur police station are deputed at the base, and their job is to question all passersby. The hilltop is manned by one policeman, and a few CCTV cameras. There is no place to sit, other than a rock under some shade. He has a stick for self-defence, and a water bottle for solace, and no toilet.
Someone gets him lunch in the afternoon, but otherwise, he spends the day alone -- with the wind, trees and rocks. A tiny shed on the hilltop, belonging to the construction workers, is locked. There is one cop during the day, and two at night on this 24x7 beat. Anyone who ventures here is stopped and questioned.
Chinnaraj, a member of Harobele Kapola Betta Development Trust, told TNIE that it was not Shivakumar who was constructing the statue. “As MLA, he helped us get the land legally. Work stopped some 15 days ago. Also, workers from Tamil Nadu have gone home for Pongal. We are not in a hurry to start, it will be done,’’ he added.