After the Karnataka High Court ruling against the Islamic dress hijāb in education centres, activism against halāl meat and the use of loudspeakers for azān from mosques, Hindus in the state have risen against Muslim mango traders. They demand that the wholesale mango market be dominated by Hindus.
Siddalinga Swamiji of Srirama Sene, a right-wing group, said: “Mango markets are controlled by Muslim traders and it is high time the poor Hindu mango growers and traders took over. This will also ensure Hindu mango growers prosper.” He said, “We are not telling Muslims not to do business; we are only saying Hindu youngsters should get involved in market-related activities and Muslims cannot be dictating prices.”
Prashanth Sambargi, another Hindutva leader from Karnataka, echoed the sentiment. “The hard work is done by the Hindu farmers and the benefits are taken by the intermediate Muslim vendor,” Sambargi said.
However, Neelatur Chinnappa Reddy, the president of the Kolar District Mango Growers’ Association, said the campaign had not yet affected their business. Reddy said, instead of promoting such campaigns, efforts should be made to provide better sops and remunerative prices for mango growers.
Reddy said further that such a campaign would not succeed as the Muslim traders had been providing market facilities for farmers all these years.
Anees Ahmed, a mango trader in Srinivasapur, said the campaign makes no sense as both Hindu and Muslim traders have been doing business together harmoniously for generations. He said at times Muslim traders had provided financial assistance to Hindu farmers to procure agricultural input to grow mangoes on their farms. Byalahalli Govinda Gowda, president, Kolar District Cooperative Central Bank, ridiculed the efforts to divide communities and said it as a move by vested interests.
Meanwhile, Primary and Secondary Education Minister BC Nagesh condemned the call for boycott and said people have the freedom to purchase from anyone. “So far, I have not seen anyone celebrating Ugadi near mosques. This year, belu-bella (neem-jaggery) was distributed in mosques. This shows there is harmony in the society,” Nagesh said. “People can purchase from wherever they want to. It’s wrong to threaten people not to purchase from someone.”
Reacting to BJP general secretary CT Ravi’s remarks on halal meat, Nagesh said that Ravi was not a minister. “Everyone can have the food of their choice from anywhere. The state government has not urged people to boycott halal meat.” Ravi had earlier claimed that halal meat was part of “economic jihad” by Muslims. He alleged that the concept of halal has been put in place so that Muslims do not do business with others.
Nagesh started his public service in the RSS and has been a full-time worker of the Sangh for several years. He joined active politics with the BJP in 1984.
Ravi was a BJP Karnataka Yuva Morcha president. Later, Rajnath Singh made him a special invitee and he went on to become the Karnataka general secretary of the party.
Meanwhile, amid the controversy over hijāb, halāl meat and now, mango trade row, Vatal Nagaraj, a former MLA and president of the Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha, said the situation in the state was serious. “I don’t know what’s happening in Karnataka. Kuvempu had said it was the garden of peace for all religions — Hindus, Christians and Muslims. But people are talking with no control over their tongue,” Nagaraj said.