Sri Ram Sena leader seeks ‘to reclaim’ 17th century mosque in Karnataka
A video of Pramod Muthalik, the controversial leader of the radical Sri Ram Sena, purportedly seeking “to reclaim” the 17th century Jumma Masjid in Karnataka’s Gadag district, about 412 km from Bengaluru, like Ayodhya’s Babri Masjid went viral on social media on Tuesday. Muthalik is heard saying the mosque, which is among the biggest religious institutions in Gadaq, was a temple that was “forcibly converted” by oppressive Muslim rulers.
HindutvaWatch, which calls itself an independent research initiative monitoring reports of attacks on minorities and marginalised communities in India, on Tuesday posted the video of Muthalik’s provocative speech in Gadag on Sunday.
“For 72 years we had to fight for Ram Mandir. After 72 years of struggle, we were able to complete our resolve to demolish it and construct a grand temple. In the same way in Gadag, I challenge that the place known as Jumma Masjid is actually Venkateswara Temple,” Muthalik said. “During Tipu Sultan’s period, this temple is among those that were demolished, and we have evidence. We will fight for this.”
“We already have two documents that state that this (Jumma Masjid) was a temple. We have applied for documents under RTI (Right to Information Act) and will start our struggle from there,” Muthalik told HT on Tuesday. He added that they would start from Gadag and then focus on other parts of the state where temples were allegedly converted into mosques and reclaim them.
The comments come amid a rise in communal violence and hate crimes in the state. A video purportedly showing a group of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad members forcing their way into a church in neighbouring Hubballi-Dharwad and chanting bhajans earlier went viral on social media. The group accused Christian priests of trying to lure people from backward communities to convert.
Karnataka’s Bharatiya Janata Party government has sought to introduce an anti-conversion law. The state’s legislative committee on backward classes and minorities’ welfare has ordered a survey of Churches and their personnel in the state.
Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai last week stoked a controversy with his statement that appeared to justify incidents of moral policing and communal disharmony in the state. “There are several sentiments in the society. Those emotions should not be affected, and such should be the behaviour. When such emotions are hurt there is likely to be an action and reaction,” Bommai told reporters in Mangaluru, about 350 km from Bengaluru.
Congress leader Siddaramaiah attacked Bommai over the remarks.