Bangalore, India, Jan 9, 2020 / 00:37 am
Catholics in India are seeking to erect the nation’s tallest statue of Jesus, over objections by Hindu groups who say one of their gods lives on the hill designated for the project.
Work began last week on the statue, planned to be nearly 100 feet tall, on 10 acres of land owned by the Archdiocese of Bangalore. If completed, the statue would be almost as tall as Poland’s 108-foot Christ the King statue, completed in 2010. Poland’s statue is believed to be the tallest statue of Jesus in the world.
Hindu groups have opposed the project, objecting that the Kapalabetta hilltop is the abode of their deity Kapali Betta. They said Christians cannot set up a statue there.
Father Cyril Victor Joseph, chairman of the archdiocese’s media commission, told UCA News that the controversy is unnecessary and due to misleading media coverage. He said the land in Ramanagara district has long been in church possession.
“We used the same land for decades and conducted the Way of the Cross during Good Fridays,” he said. “A cross was there, and we wanted to replace it with a statue of Jesus after the land was donated to us.”
Joseph said Christians have lived in the area since 1906 when French missionaries began to work there. The village of Harobele in the Kapalabetta foothills is now a Christian stronghold, the priest said.
According to Joseph, the land was donated to a Catholic trust under the diocese in December 2019 by former state minister and Congress party leader D.K. Shivakumar, a Hindu. Shivakuma helped inaugurate the project on Dec. 25, Christmas Day.
Social activist Girish Bharadwaj has asked district officials to investigate how the politician came to own the land. A petition against the project says that online land records indicate the property was grazing land that belongs to the state.