Protesting against the construction of a Ganesh temple, the students and teachers of Bangalore University staged a dharna on Jnana Bharathi Campus, persons in the know of development said on Friday. ” The protests started on Wednesday when the students led a demonstration opposing the construction of the temple.
The protesting students demanded that a library or other facilities be provided instead of the temple being constructed by civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
While protesting, the students said the location selected for the construction of the temple is a “prime property on the campus.”
Staging a dharna in front of the head office of Bangalore University, the students said, the temple “would disrupt the academic environment.” Videos of the students involved in a minor altercation with the authorities were also shared on social media platforms.
The BBMP, on Thursday, had written to Jnana Bharathi Police Station seeking protection to recommence the temple construction as some miscreants had stopped the work recently and police protection was required to start the same on September 10.
Following this, around 100 policemen, BBMP marshals and one assistant commissioner of police were allocated to protect the construction activity.
The student organisations, including Naija Horatagaarara Vedike, Post-Graduation and Research Students’ Federation, have warned the university officers that if “they continued with the construction, they would file a police complaint against them.
One of the agitating students who did not want to be named alleged that it was “an attempt to saffronise the campus and implement a hidden agenda by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.”
“The University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines and law do not permit the construction of religious places of worship like temples, churches and mosques on campus,” said another student on the condition of anonymity .
Vice-chancellor of Bangalore University Jayakara Shetty said, “The decision to construct the temple was not taken during my tenure. Former vice-chancellor KR Venugopal had taken the decision.”
He told the media that he had requested that the temple construction work be stopped. “The issue will be discussed in the syndicate meeting and a location will be chosen to construct the temple,” Shetty said.
During the road widening and grade separator work carried out by BBMP, some parts of the Vinayaka Temple were razed.
The BBMP had offered to rebuild the temple and former V-C KR Venugopal is said to have approved the same. The issue of finding a place was pending for eight months and last week the BBMP started constructing the temple near the administration block without informing authorities, claimed the protesting student bodies.
Vice-president of Bangalore University Postgraduates and Research Scholars’ Association Lokesh Ram said, “The university has to take into confidence all the stakeholders before deciding on granting permission for the construction.”
“They could have rebuilt the temple at the earlier place itself by giving extra space nearby, instead of shifting it to a prime location,” he argued.
Shetty had directed to stop the construction work of the temple in the backdrop of protests by students. Later on Thursday, when the construction work continued, he visited the spot and got the work stopped.
Meanwhile, member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly Priyank Kharge said, “Bangalore University is unitedly saying that they need better infrastructure, a state-of-the-art library for the university and they don’t want any religious activities to happen in the university.”
“In spite of that, the government has taken unilateral decisions without due consultation and processes followed by the board,” he said.
“In the last 3 years, the BJP government has not done anything. CM Basavaraj Bommai is admitting that he has completely failed in tackling the issues of Bengaluru. CM stills blame the Congress for what is happening in Bengaluru,” Kharge added.
BBMP chief commissioner and executive engineer are yet to respond to HT’s calls for their comments.