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BJP MLC, MLA oppose ‘ban’ on Muslim traders at temple fairs, minister calls it Hindus’ ‘reaction’

MLC H. Vishwanath & MLA Anil Benake have called ban 'madness'. State home minister says Hindus are reacting to Muslims’ protests against Karnataka HC’s verdict on hijab.

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Bengaluru: Ministers in Karnataka’s Basavaraj Bommai-led government have shrugged off the issue of Hindu organisations’ boycott of Muslim traders from temple fairs and festivals in the state, as a “reaction” against the hijab row that continues to rock the state. But now, two BJP legislators have taken a stand against the move.

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.

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has called all these bans by Hindu organisations a “reaction” against the hijab ban protest.

“All of these reactions have started after Muslims protested against the high court order in the hijab case. When there is law and order issue, the home ministry will pay attention to it,” Jnanendra told reporters Monday.

The Karnataka High Court in its 15 March verdict had held the hijab to be not “part of an essential religious practice in Islam”. The verdict has been challenged in Supreme Court.

Also read: ‘Derogatory observations against Muslim women’: AIMPLB challenges Karnataka HC hijab order in SC

‘This is madness’

Hindu organisations in Karnataka have “banned” Muslim traders from doing business in temple fairs in the state. The issue was also raised in the assembly last week, but the government has remained largely mum on the issue.

“This is madness. No God has asked you to ostracise anyone. The government has to intervene. I don’t know why the government is mum over this issue,” Vishwanath, a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council, told reporters Monday.

“Are they not citizens of this country? During Partition, they stayed in India and refused to go with Jinnah. They are Indians. This is a sorry affair of the state (sic),” he added.

Vishwanath has been an open critic of the BJP government in the state, especially after he was denied a cabinet berth by former CM B.S. Yediyurappa, which he has previously claimed was one of the promises made to him when he switched to the BJP. His move, along with numerous other legislators’, had led to the collapse of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka in 2019.

Benake too spoke against the call for boycotting Muslim businesses. “We (local authorities in Belagavi North) will not impose any restrictions during temple fairs, but if people do (boycott even without a ban), then we can’t help it. We will not allow imposition of restrictions,” the MLA said Monday.

“It is wrong to tell people where to buy from and where not to. The Constitution also provides equal opportunity to all, but people have become smarter. People should decide where they want to buy from,” he added.

Sixty-one writers, intellectuals, professors, activists and citizens, including writer Dr K. Marulasiddappa, too wrote to CM Bommai Monday, raising concerns over the “deliberate attempt to fuel communal hatred in the state”.

In a three-page letter, the group urged the state government to uphold constitutional values and initiate action against those fuelling communal hatred and disrupting peace and harmony in the state. “Instead of the Bhagavad Gita, teach Constitution in schools,” said the letter, referring to reports of the possibility of the Gita’s inclusion in Karnataka school syllabus in future.

Against ‘halal’ meat

Meanwhile, as the ban on Muslim traders in temple fairs continues to be replicated across the state, some have also brought up the boycotting of halal meat (ritualistic slow slaughter) by Hindus during the coming Ugadi celebration.

“Ugadi is a Hindu festival and there is a practice of cooking meat delicacies in Hindu homes. I appeal to all Hindus to boycott halal meat, because Muslims slaughter the animals with Islamic verses and offer it to Allah. Using this meat for Hindu festival is against Hindu religion,” Mohan Gowda, an office bearer of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, alleged in a press statement Monday.

“Money gained through Halal certification is used to convert India into an Islamic state and fund anti-national activities,” he claimed.

Ugadi will be celebrated on 2 April.

Gowda’s call for boycotting of halal meat during the Hindu festival has also received support from BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal.

“This is correct. When you have written ‘halal’ on hotel and meat shop boards, what does ‘halal’ mean? It means to spit. This is a culture of spitting in food, which is not okay. We Hindus call food ‘parabrahma‘, God. Hindu religion doesn’t allow ‘halal’ or spitting in food,” claimed the BJP MLA Monday.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Day 1 of Karnataka Class 10 board exams: Govt says most adhere to hijab ban, 4 ‘walk out’


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