Home / India / Law minister promises action against attacks on Muslim vendors

Law minister promises action against attacks on Muslim vendors

Congress MLA U.T. Khader was among those who questioned the chief minister’s silence on the incidents that affected communal harmony in Karnataka
Basavaraj Bommai.
Basavaraj Bommai.
File photo

K.M. Rakesh   |   Bangalore   |   Published 12.04.22, 01:34 AM

Karnataka law minister J.C. Madhuswamy on Monday promised strict action against those who attacked Muslim vendors and vandalised their merchandise but chief minister Basavaraj Bommai continued to maintain his silence over the Sangh parivar campaign against Muslims and said his “action will speak”.

In the first such reaction from a state minister, Madhuswamy termed the acts as uncivilised. “These are uncivilised acts, but once such incidents take place we need to find the right solution,” he told reporters.

While Opposition parties questioned the chief minister’s silence on the targeting of minority communities, Bommai maintained his action would speak. “My action will speak. I shouldn’t talk, but my work should speak. We are taking whatever action is needed at specific instances,“ he told reporters on Monday.

Congress MLA U.T. Khader was among those who questioned the chief minister’s silence on the incidents that affected communal harmony in the state. “The chief minister must speak. He has to provide courage to the people. It is the responsibility of the chief minister and his government to ensure stringent action is taken against the culprits without looking at their religion.”

The state has been gripped by back-to-back incidents involving Sangh parivar organisations that went after girls wearing hijab in educational institutions, before turning their attention on Muslim vendors at temple festivals, halal food, use of loudspeakers for azaan, and even boycotting autorickshaws and cabs operated by Muslims.

However, the law minister countered allegations that the government wasn’t acting against Sangh parivar elements who were having a free run in the state. “How is the government supposed to act immediately if someone does something somewhere? We will take action against all those who violate the law once the incidents are brought to our attention,” he said.

The minister’s promise to act followed Dharwad rural police arresting four men identified as Mylarappa, 27, Mahalinga, 26, Chidananda, 25, and Kumara Kattimani, 26, for attacking fruit vendors near a Hanuman temple in the district and destroying their stocks.

They have been booked under IPC 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 298 (uttering words to hurt religious feelings), 427 (mischief causing damage), 504 (intentional insult) and 506 (criminal intimidation). All four are suspected to be part of Sree Rama Sene, an outfit that has significant influence in the state. Political sources in Dharwad said the arrests followed pressure from Opposition parties.

While Bommai has not been forthcoming in condemning communal acts, Madhuswamy said boycotting any community is wrong. “Everyone has the right to live and trade in this country. It is wrong to boycott someone (based on their religion),” he added.

The recent attack on fruit vendors outside a Hanuman temple in rural Dharwad came to light when a video clip of the incident started circulating on social media. It showed men wearing saffron scarves smashing watermelons belonging to Muslim fruit vendors.

The incident followed a campaign by Sangh parivar organisations that forced several temples in the state to ban Muslim vendors from even participating in the auction of temporary shops that are set up during festivals. Most temples in the state that hold their annual festivals from March to May have fallen in line with the Sangh parivar call to prohibit Muslim vendors.

An aged fruit vendor named Nabisab had become the focus of the incident in Dharwad as all of his watermelon stock was destroyed in the attack. Several political leaders and common people had then come forward with financial assistance to help Nabisab purchase fresh stocks and eke out his livelihood.

Former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy had contributed Rs 10,000 to Nabisab while state youth congress donated Rs 25,000 to each of the four fruit vendors who lost their stock of fruits.

Kumaraswamy, who has been attacking the government over the communally polarising incidents, demanded swift action to contain such illegal acts by Sangh parivar outfits.

“The government has to quickly instruct the authorities to take stringent action against the culprits if peace and harmony has to be safeguarded in the state. It’s the duty of the government and the chief minister to clamp down on such anti-social elements, be they from any community,” Kumaraswamy said.

Copyright © 2020 The Telegraph. All rights reserved.