Tug of war over Vivekananda memorial intensifies

By Special Correspondent

The representatives of Viveka Smaraka Samithi comprising prominent citizens of Mysuru have called upon the activists to drop their protest in front of the Niranjan Mutt where a memorial for Swami Vivekananda is slated for construction.

The activists, including various pro-Kannada groups, farmers organisations, and DSS, are protesting since many weeks in their attempt to ‘safeguard’ the NTM School from closure as the school will have to be shut to pave way for the proposed memorial for Swami Vivekananda. The protest intensified on Wednesday with the activists taking out a procession.

Former MLC D. Made Gowda said the protest was baseless and described it as a street play (”Beedi Nataka’’) by misguided elements. He threatened to initiate contempt proceedings as the activists were persisting with demonstrations despite the High Court of Karnataka ruling in favour of Sri Ramakrishna Ashram. He said the protests despite the court ruling was a slur on the reputation of Mysuru and an attack on the democratic fabric of the country.

Arun Kumar, advocate for Viveka Smaraka and Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, furnished documents and property extracts and said the land was acquired by the government and has been transferred to Sri Ramakrishna Ashram following the due provisions of the law.

Mr. Arun Kumar said both the Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru and the Commissioner of Police have been apprised of the court ruling but they have turned a blind eye and have allowed the demonstrations to continue. “They are liable for contempt proceedings,” he said.

Mr. Made Gowda also alleged that the security staff guarding the property was roughed up and assaulted by the activists and though the issue has been brought to the notice of the DC, no action has been initiated. When questioned as to why a police complaint has not been lodged, Mr. Arun Kumar said the district administration was duty bound to pass on the complaint to the jurisdictional police station.

The issue is bogged down in controversy as Sri Ramakrishna Ashram in Mysuru has been vested with the responsibility of constructing the memorial at the place where Swami Vivekananda stayed there for a few days during his visit to Mysuru in 1892.

The State government passed an order in 2013 paving way for transfer of property and even the Centre released funds for memorial to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

But the activists of Maharani NTM School Horata Okkuta and Sri Niranjan Mutt Samrakshana Samithi said they have no objection to the memorial but do not want the school to be shut down and such a move would be antithetical to the philosophy of Swami Vivekananda. Even the Niranjan Mutt has to be safeguarded as it was in existence since 1840, they claimed and hence want the GO transferring the land to Sri Ramakrishna Ashram to be rescinded.

‘Value system’

Swami Muktidananda, President, Sri Ramakrisha Ashram, Mysuru, said here on Wednesday that the proposed memorial for Swami Vivekananda will provide a value system for the youths to help build the society and the nation. “The memorial is not a mere building but a service which will benefit lakhs of students’’.

“We have established Seva Mandirs in villages for the comprehensive development of the community and many villages have been adopted. The ashram is engaged in social service and promoting values and yet it was being attacked. The ashram was least interested in acquiring property and had turned down many such requests for establishing university, institutions etc. But in this case the government has come forward to hand over the land to establish a memorial because Swami Vivekananda stayed here’’, said Swami Muktidananda.

He regretted that despite furnishing documents including court ruling to establish the legal veracity over the land, it was being contested.

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