A Vishwa Hindu Parishad campaign failed to shut down Karnataka on Friday with the group trying to pressurise the Congress-led state government to cancel the birth anniversary celebrations of 18th century Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan amid swirling communal tensions.
The VHP had called for a boycott of government offices across the state and a complete shutdown in seven districts while protesting the festivities and demanding a judicial probe into the death of one of its activists killed in riots this week and Rs 25 lakh for his family.
The BJP and associated groups such as the VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal have been opposing the celebrations, saying Tipu was a “religious bigot” who persecuted Hindus and raided temples,
Including the VHP’s DS Kuttappa, four people have died since November 10 in violence that was triggered when Hindu hardliners tried to obstruct the government’s efforts to celebrate the Muslim king’s 266th birth anniversary.
The flare-up comes in the middle of a swirling debate over growing intolerance and the muzzling of dissent in the country.
The administration in Dakshina Kannada district thwarted the shutdown campaign by imposing curfew until Sunday while the other six districts saw only minor disruptions when protesters symbolically blocked major thoroughfares and highways for an hour on Friday morning.
The largest demonstration was held in state capital Bengaluru where Hindu activists threw traffic out of gear by blocking the road leading to Mysuru as the leaders made fiery speeches and workers shouted slogans.
“The time for protests like this is past. We must teach the Muslims a lesson,” said Bajrang Dal state president Suryanarayana even as police looked on.
While an edgy peace has returned to violence-hit areas, tensions show no signs of abating with home minister G Parameshwara saying “there is no question of reconsidering the state festival” while protesters have vowed to continue the movement until the government gives in.