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Muslim Vendors Banned At Karnataka Temple Festival, State Promises Action

Officials in charge of the temple admitted that they were pressured by right -wing organizations.

The traditional exhibits at the Hosa Margudi temple in Udupi along the Karnataka coast never differentiate between those who set up stalls – Hindu or Muslim. Every year, more than 100 Muslim traders set up stalls with Hindu stall owners. But this time, Muslim traders were banned.

The state government has promised action after a poster was displayed in Karnataka demanding Muslims not be allowed to the temple exhibition.

“We went and met with the temple committee members,” said Mohammad Arif, secretary -general of the Street Vendors Association in Udupi. “But they told us that they would auction the slot only to Hindus. We had to agree. They were definitely under pressure,” he added.

Officials in charge of the temple admitted that they were pressured by right -wing organizations.

“Yes, we got pressure from right -wing organizations … after discussions, we decided to ban,” said Prashanth Shetty, Executive Officer, Hosa Marigudi Temple.

The Waqf Act says temple buildings or sites cannot be given to non -Hindus. However, over the years, Hindus and Muslims have participated in the Hosa Marigudi temple exhibition peacefully.

It is unclear what triggered the provocation of the right -wing group. One of the reasons, locals say, may be the issue of hijab, where Muslim groups have asked for bandh across the state.

“We all called on a group last week to support those who demanded the hijab and opposed the decision … the issue is booming,” Mr Arif said.

Hindu stall owners said they were disappointed that Muslims had been banned from doing business.

“We all do business together. But because they protested, they were banned,” said Ram Sait, who owns a snack stall.

Devaraj, who sells articles for puja, said, “I feel sad that two communities have split. Whether we are Hindus or Muslims, we are Indians. A Hindu or a Muslim should understand this”.

The state government guaranteed action after the matter was flagged in the state assembly. Opposition deputy leader in the Karnataka Assembly and Congress chief UT Khadar, said Muslims were not allowed to put up stalls not only at temple fairs but also on the streets.

Law Minister JC Madhuswamy has said that the government does not encourage the ban.

“The government does not encourage such treatment against any ban (of Muslims from temple exhibitions). If banners are placed outside the premises, we will take action,” Mr Madhuswamy was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has requested a report from the police, assuring that the government will continue to monitor the state of law and order in the state.


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