In yet another communal row in Karnataka after attacks on churches, hijab row and call of ban on Muslim merchants in temple fairs, right wing groups in the state are now demanding a ban on halal products. A campaign by several sangh affiliated organisations and others is ongoing to boycott purchase of meat from Muslim traders in the state. Several BJP leaders, including top ministers too have tacitly endorsed this.
Since last week, eight groups including the Hindu Jagruthi Samithi, Sri Rama Sene, Bajarang Dal and others have called for the removal of halal certification from the signboards of shops selling meat. They have also urged Hindus not to buy meat which is halal cut. Instead they have advised Hindus to buy meat which is cut as per the Hindu traditional method called 'Jhatka'.
Pramod Muthalik, Founder of Sri Ram Sene on Wednesday, March 30, said that halal cut meat should be boycotted in the state as well as the whole country. In a statement issued on March 31, a federation of Hindu organisations intensified their call to boycott buying halal meat during the post-Ugadi 'Hosa Tadaku' festival in the state. “Islamic organisations are trying to make a parallel financial system in the country. It is dangerous for the security of the country. When there are government certifying agencies like FSSAI and FDA for food certification, where is the need for certification based on religion? Halal certification is against the precepts of secularism and gross injustice to the traditional butchers and meat traders,” they claimed.
They went on to further allege, “This is a conspiracy by the Muslim community to take control over the financial assets of the country. Hindus are requested to use jhatka meat instead of halal meat for the post Ugadi celebration (Hosatodaku)."
Earlier this week, Hindu Jagruthi Samithi members got sign boards which said 'halal cut available' removed from three shops in Vijayanagar of Bengaluru. At Nelamangala, in the outskirts of Bengaluru, banners have been put up to eat only at Hindu restaurants.
Many leaders of the ruling BJP have also endorsed the call. The party’s National General Secretary and MLA CT Ravi has said that, “If Muslims can give a call saying they will only have to use halal cut meat, what is wrong if others choose not to use the halal cut meat? The communal harmony is not one-sided. It should come from the other side also.”
Ravi's opposition however was not limited to halal meat, but to everything with a halal certification. Mandating Halal is economic jihad, it is devised to make Muslims purchase only with traders of their religion and not to transact with others, Ravi claimed.
Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra also joined the bandwagon on March 31 and asked why the BJP was being blamed by some for the anti-Halal campaign, which is related to faith and sentiments and individual choices of certain religious groups.
"Secularism flows in our blood. They (intellectuals) should teach those who do not respect the Indian Constitution and say that the court verdict is not applicable to them. Such people (violators) have to be told that you should not function this way in this country, this we say, sincerely. Nobody hates you and we have to live like brothers only," he said
The minister said the government has a limited role to play on the issue pertaining to halal, which is left to the wisdom of people. Jnanendra said the 'Boycott halal food' campaign is not a law and order situation but something related to faith and sentiments.
The Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and various Hindu outfits have been running a door-to-door campaign asking people not to use Halal meat. They have been distributing leaflets as well besides making appeals through videos and campaigns on social media.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the state government will examine the serious objections raised in some quarters over the issue. "The issue has to be studied in its entirety. There are no rules as such. It was a practice that was going on. Now, serious objections are raised. We will look into it," he said.