A radical Christian foreign-funded evangelical group has approached the Kanyakumari district collector seeking permanent removal of the Bharat Mata statue. According to All India Christian Development Army (AICDA), the statue would trigger communal violence in the future if it is not removed, as it hurts religious sentiments of the Christians who are not idol worshippers. Christians have considerable presence in the Kanyakumari district.
The Kanyakumari police had covered up the statue of the Bharat Mata installed on the premises of the 200-year-old Issaki Amman Temple in Kanyakumari. The action of the police, despite protest from Hindus, had triggered national outrage with former minister Alphons Kannanthanam and former MP Tarun Vijay writing to the state government demanding reinstation. A group of activists of a few Hindu organisations staged a demonstration and removed the cover.
Notwithstanding the national outrage, the Christian groups have been mounting pressure on the district administration to remove the statue. Theodore Sam, the President of AICDA, has argued in his complaint that the issue of Bharat Mata statue coming up during the period of lockdown has a potential of disrupting communal harmony and creating discord in the society.
The move to file another complaint against the reinstallation of Bharat Mata statue under the pretext of inciting communal disharmony appears as a ploy by the Christian missionaries to attack the symbols of nationalistic manifestation and besmirch them as triggers of communal flash-points.
In response to the complaint filed by the AICDA, advocate Ashutosh Dubey issued a legal notice to the District Collector. The lawyer describes Bharat Mata as a personification of India that came first into existence during the nineteenth century, after the Great Indian Mutiny of 1857. The notice calls the complaint filed by AICDA “absolutely baseless” and alleges that the complaint was filed with the intention of “inciting fear and hatred”.
“The statue not at all disrupts the communal harmony because Bharat belongs to the mother-land, India is a secular country and in secular countries, no one holds the authorisation to harm any statue which is related to public sentiments,” the notice reads.
The advocate warned that the notice should be considered as a statutory demand notice and the idol of Bharat Mata should not be tampered with again and again, failing which harsh action will be initiated. The failure to act on the notice will invite legal action under various sections of the Indian Penal Code 1860, Prevention to Insults to National Honours Act, 1971, the notice read.
The controversy was erupted after a Christian evangelical outfit Church of South India (CSI), filed an objection over the statue of Bharat Mata with Kanyakumari police claiming that the statue was hurting their “religious sentiments”. After their complaint, the Kanyakumari Police had covered up the statue with a cloth.