bangalore: Ministers in the Basavaraj Bommai-led government in Karnataka ignored the issue of boycotts by Hindu organizations of Muslim traders of temple fairs and festivals in the state, as a ‘backlash’ against the ongoing hijab row to shake up the state. But now two BJP lawmakers have taken a stand against the move.
While H. Vishwanath, a former Janata Dal (secular) state president who joined the BJP in 2019, called the ban “madness”, Anil Benake, a BJP MP from Belagavi North, cited the Constitution which gives equal opportunity to all and added that people should “be smart” in doing business.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra called all such bans by Hindu organizations a “backlash” against the protest against the hijab ban.
“All these reactions started after Muslims protested against the High Court order in the hijab case. When there is a public order problem, the Interior Ministry will pay attention to it,” Jnanendra told reporters on Monday.
The Karnataka High Court, in its verdict of March 15, found that the hijab was not “part of an essential religious practice of Islam”. The verdict was challenged in the Supreme Court.
Read also: ‘Derogatory remarks against Muslim women’: AIMPLB challenges Karnataka HC’s hijab order in SC
‘This is madness’
Hindu organizations in Karnataka have “prohibited” Muslim traders from doing business at temple fairs in the state. The issue was also raised in the Assembly last week, but the government has been largely silent on the matter.
“This is madness. No God has asked you to ostracize anyone. The government must intervene. I don’t know why the government is silent on this issue,” Vishwanath, a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council.
“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 sad state affair (sic),” he added.
Vishwanath has been an outspoken critic of the BJP government in the state, especially after he was denied a cabinet seat by former CM BS Yediyurappa, which he says was one of the promises given to him. made when he moved to the BJP. His decision, along with that of many other lawmakers, had led to the collapse of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka in 2019.
Benake also spoke out against the call for a boycott of Muslim businesses. “We (local authorities in Belagavi North) won’t impose any restrictions during temple fairs, but if people do (boycott even without bans), we can’t help it. We will not allow the imposition of restrictions,” the MP said on Monday.
“Telling people where to buy and where not to buy is wrong. The Constitution also provides a level playing field, but people have gotten smarter. People should decide where they want to buy,” he added.
Sixty-one writers, intellectuals, professors, activists and citizens, including writer Dr K. Marulasiddappa, also wrote to CM Bommai on Monday, expressing concern over the “deliberate attempt to fuel communal hatred in the State”.
In a three-page letter, the group urged the state government to uphold constitutional values and take action against those who fuel communal hatred and disrupt peace and harmony in the state. “Instead of the Bhagavad Gita, teach the Constitution in the schools,” the letter said, referring to reports of the possibility of the Gita being included in Karnataka’s school curriculum in the future.
Against “halal” meat
Meanwhile, as the ban on Muslim traders at temple fairs continues to be replicated across the state, some have also pointed to a boycott of halal meat (slow ritual slaughter) by Hindus during the upcoming Ugadi celebration.
“Ugadi is a Hindu festival and there is a practice of cooking meat specialties in Hindu homes. I call on all Hindus to boycott halal meat because Muslims slaughter animals with Islamic verses and offer it to Allah. Using this meat for Hindu festivals is against the Hindu religion,” Mohan Gowda, a Hindu Janajagruti Samiti party official, said in a press release on Monday.
“Money earned from Halal certification is used to convert India into an Islamic state and fund anti-national activities,” he claimed.
Ugadi will be celebrated on April 2.
Gowda’s call for boycotting halal meat during the Hindu festival also received support from BJP Basanagouda MP Patil Yatnal.
“That’s ok. When you wrote ‘halal’ on hotel and meat shop signs, what does ‘halal’ mean? It means spitting. It’s a culture of spitting in food, which is not acceptable. We Hindus call food ‘parabrahma‘, God. The Hindu religion does not allow ‘halal’ or spitting in food,” the BJP MP said on Monday.
(Editing by Poulomi Banerjee)
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