Amid reports of diktats banning Muslim vendors from participating in annual festivals in coastal Karnataka, the BJP-led Karnataka government said it was the Congress government that introduced the rule to not lease temple property to non-Hindus.
A Congress MLA on Wednesday raised the issue in Karnataka legislative Assembly, saying temple trusts banning Muslims from taking part in bidding for stalls was dividing the society. “The history of the coastal district has several examples where Muslims and Hindus have co-existed in harmony, and have celebrated festivals together. Some cowardly people are installing hoardings that Muslims are not allowed. It has set a bad precedent, but, fortunately, at some places the Hindus have taken a stand against such diktats,” he said.
In reply, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy said the government does not encourage the ban. “Rule 12 of the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act-2002 states that no property, including land, building or site situated near the premises shall be leased to non-Hindus. Citing these rules, posters and banners have been put up,” Madhuswamy said.
“The government is not encouraging any such ban. If banners are put, we will take action,” he said. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai assured the House to look into the matter.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has sought reports from local police, assuring the House that the government will keep a close watch on law-and-order situation.
Hindu right wing activists allegedly forced some Muslim vendors in Bengaluru’s Upparpete to close shops from a temple premises. In Bengaluru’s rural Nelamangala district, the Basaveshwara temple management is also facing pressure allegedly from Hindu right wing organisations to ban Muslim vendors at the annual festival, scheduled to be held next month. Jagadeesh, a member of the temple committee, said, “Some people came to us claiming to be Bajrang Dal activists and insisted on banning Muslims to do business during the annual festival. For generations, we have been living peacefully and without discrimination. We sent them back,” he said.