The procession of Hindu Mahasabha Ganapati in Shivamogga on Friday evening turned controversial with a poster of Nathuram Godse, who was convicted in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, spotted among a host of posters of Hindutva ideologues that were carried by people participating.
Earlier in the day, Shivamogga district administration had removed the saffron flag that was placed atop the national emblem near the KSRTC bus stand, allegedly by the organisers of Hindu Mahasabha Ganapati Samiti.
Ahead of the procession of Ganesha, the organisers had decorated all prominent traffic junctions that fall along the route of the procession. They decorated circles with saffron buntings and flags. One saffron flag was placed on the statue of four lions, the national emblem, as well.
In the evening, the procession in which hundreds participated and the poster of Godse was spotted, was attended by former minister K.S. Eshwarappa, Lok Sabha member B.Y. Raghavendra, BJP councillors, and office-bearers of the Hindu Mahasabha Ganapati Samiti.
The procession held on a grand scale after the COVID-19 lockdown attracted a huge crowd. Youths, who were in big numbers, raised slogans praising Shivaji Maharaj and V.D. Savarkar among others. They also carried posters of Savarkar, cine star Puneet Rajkumar, and Hindutva activist Harsha, who was murdered earlier this year.
Impressed by the crowd, Mr. Eshwarappa said the huge gathering was a sign of “Hindu youths getting angry with the recent murder of Hindutva activists.” “For the first time, a huge number of youths participated in the procession. This shows the awakening of Hindu youths,” he said. He also thanked people of other communities who had been extending their support for the peaceful procession.
The district administration deployed policemen to avoid untoward incidents during the procession. Several schools located close to the route of the process had declared a holiday on the day.
Earlier this year, on February 8, a group of students, participating in a protest against the wearing of hijab in schools in Shivamogga, hoisted the saffron flag on the flag post — meant for hoisting the national flag — of the Government First Grade College at Bapuji Nagar. This development had led to protests across the State.