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BJP slams Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw for ‘growing divide’ in Karnataka remark, she has ‘faith in govt’

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is 1st business leader from Karnataka to speak against a campaign by Hindutva organisations that appears to target Muslim businesses in the state.

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Bengaluru/New Delhi: A day after global business leader and biotechnology pioneer Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw urged Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to resolve the “communal exclusion” and  “growing religious divide” in the state, the BJP hit out at her for her “politically coloured opinion”.

Mazumdar-Shaw responded by saying she had full faith in the state’s government.

On Wednesday, Mazumdar-Shaw, executive chairperson of Biocon Ltd, took to social media to speak out against Hindutva groups’ calls for banning and boycotting Muslim traders at temple fairs in Karnataka, and their campaign against establishments selling ‘halal’ meat ahead of Ugadi (New Year) next month.

Hosatodaku — the day after Ugadi — is celebrated with the preparation of meat delicacies by Hindus in the state. The day has traditionally meant good business for meat shops in Karnataka, including those owned by Muslims.

Mazumdar-Shaw tweeted that “Karnataka has always forged inclusive economic development and we must not allow such communal exclusion”, saying the state’s global leadership in the ITBT [information technology & biotechnology] sector was at stake.

Amit Malviya, in charge of the BJP’s National Information and Technology Department, tweeted Thursday that it was “unfortunate to see people like Kiran Shaw impose their personal, politically coloured opinion, and conflate it with India’s leadership in the ITBT sector”.

He also questioned Mazumdar-Shaw for remaining quiet on the hijab row and claimed that she had helped draft the Congress manifesto.

Malviya posted a section of the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 2002 to point out that the legislation was drafted by the Congress and seeks to exclude non-Hindus from leasing premises in areas close to Hindu religious institutions.

Rule 31 of the Act speaks about long-term lease and renewal with respect to the immovable property of a notified institution. Sub-rule 12 under this rule says any property — land, building — located near a Hindu institution or temple shall not be leased to non-Hindus.

However, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Karnataka, in a letter to the CM (a copy of which is with ThePrint), has pointed out that the rule applies to long-term lease (up to 30 years for land and five years for shops and buildings).

Mazumdar-Shaw hit back at Malviya’s tweets about her, saying her “comments are not politically coloured”, and she has full confidence in the Bommai government.

‘Know what to respond to and what not to’

The ban on Muslim traders was also raised in the assembly last week, but the CM has refused to respond on the issue.

On Wednesday, Bommai brushed off media questions on the matter as “not requiring a response”.

“Many organisations keep calling for a ban on different things. We know what to respond to and what not to. We will respond to things that require a response. We won’t react to things that don’t need a reaction,” Bommai told reporters at a press conference.

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has described it as a “reaction” to the protests over the past few months against the hijab ban.

“When there is a law-and-order issue, the home ministry will pay attention to it,” Jnanendra told reporters Monday.

The Karnataka High Court, on 15 March, said the hijab was not “part of an essential religious practice in Islam”. The verdict has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

Two BJP legislators have, however, spoken up against the ban on Muslim businesses.

While H. Vishwanath, a former Janata Dal (Secular) state president who joined the BJP in 2019, has termed the ban “madness”, Anil Benake, a BJP MLA from Belagavi North, has cited the Constitution that gives equal opportunities for all and added that people should “be smart” about doing business.

BJP National General secretary C.T. Ravi, meanwhile, appears to be raising a cry against ‘halal’ products, and alleged “economic jihad”.

Speaking to ThePrint Thursday, Ravi elaborated, “Who gives out these halal certificates? It isn’t the government, but some Muslim religious organisation. What does halal mean? It is Islamic ritualistic slaughter. Why should that be allowed in public shops in a secular country? If someone wants to trade halal meat, let them do it at home.”

Ravi also justified the action of Hindutva organisations that have been visiting private establishments, hotels and restaurants across the state and demanding the removal of signage informing customers about the availability of ‘halal’ meat. “Those signboards are illegal. If putting up those signboards is illegal, then removing them is legal,” Ravi said.

Disclosure: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is among the distinguished founder-investors of ThePrint. Please click here for details on investors. 

This report has been updated with additional information

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Girls need to be in school, hijab or not. Karnataka HC judgment a blow to diversity



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