Hundreds of hardline Hindus protest giant Jesus statue in India

Hindu groups are protesting plans for the giant statue because they believe the site is home to one of their deities.(Photo: YouTube)

Hundreds of hardline Hindus have staged protests against plans to erect a giant Jesus statue in India.

The planned statue is to be similar in size to "Christ the Redeemer" in Rio de Janeiro and will stand on top of a hill called Kapalabetta in Harobele, southern Karnataka, the Times of India reports. 

Harobele is a small town of around 3,500 people and home to a majority of Christians. Kapalabetta is owned by the Archdiocese of Bangalore. 

The plans have sparked outrage among Hindus who believe that the hill is home to the Hindu deity, Munieshwara, a form of Lord Shiva. 

On Monday, members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the hardline parent organisation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, staged protests against the statue. 

"We want to stop [the construction of the statue], since it goes against the spirit of communal harmony and encourages religious conversions which is rampantly carried out by Christian missionaries," Prabhakar Bhat, a member of RSS, told reporters.

"We will not allow a statue of Jesus to be erected at Kapalabetta. They are trying to make it a Christian land just like Pakistan is a Muslim state," he added.

Father Cyril Victor Joseph, chairman of the archdioceses' media commission, defended the plans in comments to UCA News.

"We used the same land for decades and conducted the Way of the Cross during Good Fridays," he said. "A cross was there, and we wanted to replace it with a statue of Jesus after the land was donated to us."