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Muslim shopkeepers denied stalls at temple festival fairs in South Karnataka

In the invitation, the organizers have made it clear that only Hindus are eligible to participate in the bid on March 31

Tuesday March 22, 2022 11:20 PM, Syed Ali Mujtaba

Muslim Boycott

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Bengaluru: Muslim Shopkeepers in coastal Karnataka are not allowed to have stalls at the temple fair during the upcoming Hindu festivals. This is a direct fallout of the Muslim shopkeepers' stand to support the shutdown call to protest against the Karnataka HC judgment on Hijab.

In Puttur, South Karnataka, organizers of the annual festival of the Mahalingeshwara Temple scheduled on April 20 have barred Muslims from participating in the auction for stalls. In the invitation, the organizers have made it clear that only Hindus are eligible to participate in the bid on March 31, local media reported.

Similarly, the Hosa Marigudi Temple in Kaup, Udupi district refused to allocate stalls to Muslims in the auction held on March 18 for the annual fair. The temple administration committee passed a resolution allowing only Hindus to participate in the auction of shops.

Similarly, in Shivamogga, Muslim shopkeepers were kept out from the Kote Marikamba festival that began last week.

In Mulki town in South Karnataka, a hoarding at the Sri Durgapameshwari Temple says, “People who don’t respect the law of the land and who kill the cows that we pray and who are against the unity will not be allowed to do business.”

The annual festivals of temples in Karnataka’s coastal region are usually held during April-May and draw huge revenue running into crores. In the past, such festivals rarely harmed the business prospects of any community but this is not the same now.

Mohammed Arif, Secretary of Udupi District Street Vendors’ and Traders’ Association says:

“There are about 700 registered members of them 450 are Muslims. We did not have any business for the last two years because of Covid-19. Now as we begin to start earning again, we have been left out by the temple committees.”

It is widely believed that the temple committees of these fairs have succumbed to the pressure exerted by right-wing Hindu groups to exclude Muslim shopkeepers.

The president of the temple committee has reportedly said on the condition of anonymity that the committee was never communal in the past but recent developments, especially on social media where campaigns have been launched against Muslim shopkeepers, forced them to agree to such demands for the smooth conduct of the festivals and the fairs.

The main reason for the denial of shops to the Muslims is because their stand to down the shutters after the Karnataka HC had upheld the ban on Hijab in educational institutions.

The ‘bandh’ called by Muslims over the HC verdict on Hijab had an overwhelming participation of the Muslim shopkeepers, locals say adding this has led many temple committees in the region to bar Muslim shopkeepers from having stalls at the local annual fairs.

Mangaluru Division General Secretary of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, Prakash Kukkehalli, said the local temple worshippers were outraged after Muslims closed their shops against the HC verdict on Hijab.

On this development, the response from the local police is feeble. “If anyone from the civil society is ready to file a complaint, we will take action accordingly,” Mangaluru city police commissioner N Shashi Kumar reportedly said.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist. He can be conducted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

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