Outfit calls for Muslim cab, tour operators’ boycott in Karnataka

Updated on Apr 09, 2022 04:53 AM IST

Members of the group visited homes across several parts of Karnataka, including Bengaluru, asking people not to use services of Muslim cab drivers especially when going to Hindu temples or pilgrimages.

Muslims account for about 13% of the state’s nearly 70 million population.
Muslims account for about 13% of the state’s nearly 70 million population.

Bengaluru: The Bharata Rakshana Vedike, a fringe right-wing group in Karnataka, on Friday began a campaign asking Hindus not to employ the services of Muslim cab, tour and travel operators, continuing a trend seen in the state in recent weeks, where right wing groups, and sometimes even politicians belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government have targeted the lifestyle and livelihoods of Muslims.

Members of the group visited homes across several parts of Karnataka, including Bengaluru, asking people not to use services of Muslim cab drivers especially when going to Hindu temples or pilgrimages.

“When we go to temples or shrines, we do not eat non-veg and taking someone who does not believe in our gods or make us impure with their food choices would be a disrespect to our culture and religion. They call us kafirs (non-believers) and just as their religion is important to them, ours is to us,” Bharat Shetty, the chief of the Bharat Raksha Vedike said.

The statements come at a time when fringe right-wing groups, with the tacit approval of the Basavaraj Bommai-led government, have targeted Muslims over issues such as hijab, halal meat, and the azaan in mosques. Some have even lashed out at the large number of Muslims who are fruit vendors and asked Hindus not to buy fruits from them.

Shetty said that there were several Hindus who were forced to sell their cabs due to the hardships around the covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns and that it was the duty of the majority community to take care of their own first.

Muslims account for about 13% of the state’s nearly 70 million population.

“I don’t know what new campaign they (pro-Hindu groups) have started or left. But specifically, the foolishness of the Congress is that when the Hijab row started, a school which had 96 Muslim students who for decades were wearing the uniform. Only six of these came out and insisted on wearing the Hijab and not the uniform stating that they will give up education but not their faith. If the Congress had convinced them that day itself, none of these problems would have come up. Hindus and Muslims want to be together but the Congress does not want them together for the sake of votes. All this Hijab, Halal and other controversies are the doing of the Congress who would benefit only if these two communities are separated,” KS Eshwarappa, Karnataka’s minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) told HT.

Since Bommai took over as the state’s chief minister last year, the state has passed a controversial anti-conversion bill, issued an order effectively barring hijabs in schools in colleges, and quietly endorsed the campaign against halal meat as well as that against the use of loudspeakers in mosques. The government has appeared to side with calls by fringe groups over the hijab, the campaign against halal meat and azaan. The government cited endowment laws of 2002 to defend the actions of right-wing groups preventing Muslims from setting up shops in temples and taking part in religious fairs--a practice which has been followed for centuries in Karnataka.

In the tourism sector and in particular the transport segment, language, religion and caste have never come up. This is being created. Only those who are skilled personnel with some knowledge will take people to such tourist and holy places. There is no caste or religion in this . There are many people who started as drivers and are now operators. And all are equal. Intentionally a rift is being created,” Radhakrishna Holla, the president of the Karnataka State Travel Operators Association said.

He added that groups calling for such bans are trying to gain political prominence by raking up such issues.

“No influential seer or big political leaders are also talking about this and trying to put an end to such calls,” he added.

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