A historical Buddhist site near Gulbarga, 584 km from Bengaluru, where the first inscribed image of Ashoka was discovered, has become the latest communal flashpoint in Karnataka. For the past two weeks, Dalit organisations and a Buddhist monk have been protesting against what they claim is an attempt by Hindus to appropriate the monument by placing a Durga idol.
Four Dalits and a Buddhist monk have been arrested for removing the idol. However, the protesters claim that they had removed the idol only to take it to the deputy commissioner’s office when they were arrested.
“On 5 February, a group of Dalits led by a Buddhist monk tried to forcibly take away the Durga idol,” says R Vishal, deputy commissioner of Gulbarga city.
Banteji and four Dalit leaders have been booked under various IPC sections for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace, unlawful assembly intended to outrage religious feelings. […]