24-foot tall Hanuman idol forced into 1,300 km return trip

September 30th, 2008 - 1:10 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyKanyakumari (Tamil Nadu), Sep 29 (IANS) A 24-foot tall statue of Hindu god Hanuman is making a return trip of 650 km as it was removed from here Monday, eight days after it was installed here amid political controversy.Similar attempts Sunday had led to tensions between members of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other organisations on the one side and predominantly Christian fishermen o the other.

The statue had been installed at the ‘Sunset Point’, a popular rendezvous on the picturesque beach here at at the southern tip of the subcontinent for local and foreign tourists.

Weighing about 25 tonnes and sculpted in Mahabalipuram in the outskirts of state capital Chennai, the statue was installed without permission by a self-styled Hindu organisation on Sep 21.

Official sources said panchayat authorities here were tricked into allowing the installation of the icon by an organisation that called itself Chaitanya Maha Prabhu Nama Bhiksha Kendra to create a “Hanuman Park”.

Officials’ explanation and threat to prosecute those who persisted with the installation did the trick.

“On the one hand, collector Jothi Nirmala explained the illegality of the installation to the agitators. But on the other hand, the possibility of being prosecuted for creating communal disharmony also worked,” a police official said.

The local body’s vice president S. Pushparaj said: “My wife Felicity, elected head of the panchayat, did not understand the difference between a simple park and the installation a large statue in a public place allowed the installation. She wrote to the collector and withdrew her permission.”

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