In Keragodu village of Karnataka’s Mandya, a controversy over a Hanuman flag has led to political confrontations, protests, and police intervention. The incident took place last week when a group of men erected a 108-foot flagpole and raised a Hanuman flag.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been issued in the village because of the tense situation.
The village panchayat had granted permission for the installation of the flagpole, but complaints were filed against it, prompting officials to request the removal of the Hanuman flag. Villagers, however, stood firm in their decision, accusing a few individuals of attempting to politicise the matter. A large police contingent was deployed, and members of the BJP, JD(S), and Bajrang Dal joined villagers in protesting against the removal.
Protests escalated on Saturday when villagers closed their shops in defiance. Yesterday, Gram Panchayat officials visited the village to remove the flag, leading to a gathering of villagers chanting slogans of ‘Go Back’ in protest against the officials.
The controversy took a political turn when banners of local Congress MLA Ravi Kumar were vandalised during the protests. In response, police presence was heightened in the region, anticipating further unrest.
BJP leaders and Hindu activists strongly condemned the removal of the flag. The BJP announced plans to hold protests in all districts of Karnataka, with a specific protest scheduled at Mysuru Bank Circle in Bengaluru today.
To quell the unrest, police resorted to lathi charge and replacing the Hanuman flag with the national flag on the flagpole. Official sources revealed that the flag post’s installation was funded by residents of Keragodu and 12 neighboring villages, with the active involvement of BJP and JD(S) workers.
Opposition parties criticised the Congress-led government for the police intervention, with BJP leader R Ashoka condemning the government’s “anti-Hindu stance.” He argued that the Hanuman flag was raised with the gram panchayat’s approval, questioning the sudden removal by the Congress government.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah responded to the situation, expressing concern that a ‘bhagwa dwaja’ (saffron flag) had been raised instead of the national flag.
“It is not right. I have asked (the authorities concerned) to hoist the national flag.”
The District In-charge Minister N Cheluvarayaswamy clarified that the flagpole’s location falls under the panchayat’s jurisdiction, and permission was initially obtained for hoisting the national flag on Republic Day.