BY KEVINE OMOLLO
Kisumu, Kenya: Kisumu residents engaged police in running battles in the city centre to protest the construction of a statue by members of the Hindu religion along Nyerere Road.
Police were forced to lobby teargas canisters at the protestors who had set the statue ablaze.
The incident affected traffic on the busy road, as the angry mob converged on different corners playing hide and seek with the security officers.
The protesters, Muslims and Christians, argued that erecting a religious statue in the heart of the town portrayed Kisumu as a city of the Hindu religion.
The statue, which was constructed near Aga Khan Hall along Nyerere Road, was meant to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha temple in Kisumu.
“Christians are not allowed to bow down to other gods and the location of the statue means everyone using this road bows,” said Erick Otieno, a resident.
The statue is located on a roundabout next to the temple and the residents argued that road users were being distracted and that its continued presence could lead to accidents.
The demonstrators asked the county government to build statues of Kenyan heroes.
“Even we Christians and Muslims don’t erect statues of our gods on public roads; we do it inside places of worship, so why should Hindus be allowed to erect theirs on public roads?” asked Mr Otieno.
On Tuesday, Christians from the Ministry of Repentance and Holiness Church demonstrated against the monument, saying it would promote idolatry in the region.
Kisumu Central Deputy OCPD Joe Lekuta asked the residents to appeal to the county government, which approved the placement of the statue.
“The construction of the statue was not a coincidence. It was allowed by the county government so do not engage in acts that demean the gods of other people,” said Lekuta. He warned that police would take action against those who engage in destruction of the monument.