Two Karnataka BJP legislators have taken a stand against the move by some Hindu organisations to boycott Muslim traders at temple fairs even as ministers in the Basavaraj Bommai-led government are making light of the issue, describing it as a “reaction” against the Muslim insistence on hijab that continues to disturb peace in the state.
A former Janata Dal (Secular) state president who joined the BJP in 2019, H Vishwanath has termed the ban “madness”. Then, a BJP MLA from Belagavi North, Anil Benake has cited the Constitution of India that gives equal opportunities for all and added that people should “be smart” about doing business.
“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 yesterday.
“Are they not citizens of this country? During the partition, they stayed in India and refused to go with Jinnah. They are Indians. This is a sorry affair of the state,” he said.
Vishwanath has been an open critic of the BJP government in the state, especially after he was denied a cabinet berth by former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, which he has previously claimed was one of the promises made to him when he had joined the BJP. Many other legislators like him had withdrawn their support to the JD(S)-INC coalition government in Karnataka in 2019.
Benake spoke against the call for boycotting Muslim businesses too. “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 the imposition of restrictions,” the MLA said on 28 March.
“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 said.
But Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra calls all these Hindu boycotts 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 a law and order issue, the home ministry will pay attention to it,” Jnanendra said yesterday.
In its 15 March verdict, the Karnataka High Court had held that the hijab was not “part of an essential religious practice in Islam”. Muslims moved the Supreme Court, appealing against the high court verdict, subsequently.
Hindu organisations in Karnataka have called for a boycott of Muslim traders from doing business in temple fairs in the state. The issue was raised in the assembly last week, but the state government has remained silent on the issue.
As many as 61 usual suspects — comprising writers, intellectuals, professors, activists and citizens, including writer Dr K Marulasiddappa — wrote to Chief Minister Bommai on 28 March, raising concerns about the “deliberate attempt to fuel communal hatred in the state”.
In their 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,” read the letter, referring to reports of the possibility of the Gita’s inclusion in Karnataka school syllabus in future.
Hindus of Karnataka want to see halal meat banned too
Meanwhile, as Hindus boycott Muslim traders in temple fairs across Karnataka, there is a demand to boycott halal meat (obtained from the Islamic way of slaughtering the animal slowly by slitting its throat) 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.
“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 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 does not allow ‘halal’ or spitting in food,” said the BJP MLA yesterday.