Muslim traders barred from temple fairs: Karnataka govt seeks report

Updated on Mar 23, 2022 06:42 PM IST

Amid the attempts of several groups to not allow Muslim traders to set up stalls at temples, Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on Wednesday sought reports from police, assuring that the government will keep a close watch on law and order situation in the state.

Karnataka Home Minister demanded reports into allegations that Muslim traders were not allowed to have stalls at temple fairs and festivals. 
Karnataka Home Minister demanded reports into allegations that Muslim traders were not allowed to have stalls at temple fairs and festivals. 
ANI |

Amid the attempts of several groups to not allow Muslim traders to set up stalls at temples, Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on Wednesday sought reports from police, assuring that the government will keep a close watch on law and order situation in the state.

Multiple banners and hoardings were also placed barring non-Hindus from running stalls, saying “shops will be given to only Hindus”.

"I have seen this (Muslim traders not being allowed to set up stalls at temples) in media. I have sought reports from the police officials. The state government is keeping a close watch and will take action to avert any untoward incident," Jnanendra said.

After the hijab row in Karnataka, several temple authorities and organizing committees of fairs have banned Muslim traders from setting up stalls, the first such incident in the state. For years, Muslims have been setting up stalls at such annual fairs at temples. The move comes after many Muslim traders closed their shops in protest against the Karnataka High Court verdict upholding the state’s ban on hijabs at schools and colleges.

In Karnataka's Shivamogga, the festival committee has reportedly not given tenders to Muslim shopkeepers to set up shops during the historic five-day Kote Marikamba Jatra festival after alleged protests by the BJP and others.

According to reports, the Jatra committee held a meeting last Friday to decide on modalities for opening the stalls which is an important source of income for the temple.

A local Bajrang Dal leader Shobith told a news agency that the move has been taken to avoid untoward incidents in the backdrop of the hijab controversy.

"In the past, people of all religions were allowed to put up stalls. This year we have decided to allow only Hindu shopkeepers," Deen Dayal, a VHP leader, said.

However, Samiti president S K Mariyappa told reporters on Sunday that several members of the Muslim community are taking part in different activities related to the fair, and that the committee does not interfere with the process.

Several posters and leaflets are making rounds on social media from various parts of Karnataka, from Mulki to Udupi district, which clearly read that non-Hindus will not be allowed to take part in the local fair either by setting stalls or selling their products.

N. Shashi Kumar, the police commissioner, Mangaluru, has assured appropriate action against people who are putting up provocative posters, especially the one around 'Bappanadu Shri Durga Parameshwari Temple'.

"We have taken cognizance of the incident of 'Bappanadu Shri Durga Parameshwari Temple'. The local administration and temple authority have also taken note of the issue, and we will take appropriate action," Shashi Kumar told ANI. 

Meanwhile, at the Karnataka assembly, Congress leader U T Khader accused BJP of rejoicing over the controversy in its silence. “India is a country of diversity. Here all the religions can coexist. However, some groups are creating a rift between religions. This is going to create unrest and hatred in the society in the Karnataka Coastal Area," he said.

BJP's J. C. Madhu Swamy then said, “Whenever there are any religious clashes, one shouldn't assume a political party is supporting or encouraging them. If such provocative banners are installed in public places, we will take action and remove them. However, if they are within the premises of a Hindu religious area, it is legal.”

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