The incident and following tension were reported from Karnataka’s temple town of Sringeri after a piece of cloth resembling the flag of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) was found atop a statue of the much-respected 8th-century philosopher, Adi Sankaracharya.
Furious local leaders of the ruling BJP are alleging the flag belongs to the SDPI and was planted on the statue, asking for a thorough investigation into the incident.
Furthermore, the local party leaders are alleging that miscreants are inciting people in the area in the backdrop of the Bengaluru riots that took place late Tuesday.
The BJP has been accusing the SDPI, the political arm of the radical Popular Front of India (PFI), for the riots in Bengaluru that left three people dead.
According to reports, Shankaracharya devotees led by former MLA D.N. Jeevaraj staged a protest after spotting the ‘flag’ on the statue and demanded action.
“Sringeri is a holy town. The statue of Adi Sankaracharya is sacred. This flag belonging to the SDPI that was found on top of the statue is an act by miscreants to try and provoke us,” said D. N. Jeevaraj, former BJP MLA from Sringeri. “We demand a detailed probe by the police. We will not accept any form of insult to our religion.”
Chikkamagaluru Superintendent of Police Hakkay Akshay Machindra told ThePrint over the phone that they have registered a case and are investigating if the flag really belongs to the SDPI or any other organisation.
“The flag has the colors blue, red and green. It looks similar to the one that represents the SDPI,” Machindra said. “It is not the traditional green Islamic flag but we cannot say anything for certain until we complete our investigation.”
The SP added, “The cloth could have flown from anywhere. We are analyzing CCTV footage to confirm whether anybody has done this to create tension. We are handling it responsibly as it involves a lot of emotions between communities.”Sringeri in Chikkamagaluru district is a place of pilgrimage where Adi Shankaracharya is said to have instituted the first mutt along the banks of the Tunga river.
It’s Not our flag: SDPI
The SDPI, however, said it has nothing to do with the piece of cloth found on the statue.
The party’s Karnataka state president Elyas Muhammed Thumbe called it an attempt to frame the organization at a time when the situation is tense after the Bengaluru riots.
“It is not our flag. Go to our website and compare it,” he told ThePrint. “All this is being done by the Sangh Parivar to frame us. Our party does not even have a unit in Sringeri, so where will our flag come from?
It may have been a flag of a local masjid that could have flown in the wind. The Sangh Parivar and the BJP are trying to create communal tension, not us.”
BJP leaders are meanwhile claiming “Islamic organizations” are disrupting peace in the state.
Condemning the Sringeri incident, Udupi-Chikkamagaluru BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje tweeted: “Serious action will be taken against those who are behind this incident!”
Intolerance of SDPI is touching peak!
Anti-social elements are inciting people to propagate their sinister agendas. Anti-social elements are inciting people to propagate their sinister agendas. I condemn the incident of planting SDPI flags on Sri Shankaracharya’s statue at Sringeri, serious action will be taken against those who are behind this incident!
Culture and Tourism Minister C.T. Ravi, who is also an MLA from Chikkamagaluru, sought a thorough investigation.