A Muslim trader who had set up shop near a temple was evicted by members of a Hindutva group in Karnataka's Kodagu district, continuing the trend of Hindutva groups targeting Muslim traders in the state. The latest incident occurred at the Harihara Subramanya Temple in Ponnampet in Kodagu district on Tuesday, November 29. Ambika, a college lecturer and the district coordinator of the Durga Vahini, a Hindutva group, told Muslim traders that they were not allowed to conduct business near the temple.
"He (the trader) didn't have the necessity to hide his ID card to carry out business here. They could have come here showing their real ID cards. Despite us saying that we won't let anyone other than Hindus to do business here, they are doing business here with fake ID cards," Ambika is heard saying in a video showing a Muslim trader being evicted from the temple area.
The exclusion of Muslim traders in Kodagu is part of an aggressive campaign by Hindutva groups in Karnataka to boycott Muslim businesses at temples. Earlier this week, Hindutva groups called for a boycott of Muslim traders during the religious fair at the Subramanya Swamy temple in VV Puram in Bengaluru. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal submitted a memorandum on Tuesday to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner, Tushar Giri Nath and Deputy Commissioner of Police for South Bengaluru, P Krishnakant, calling for a ban on Muslim traders.
The move was condemned by the Federation of Street Vendors Union in Bengaluru. "Street vendors are brought together by hard work and hunger not their caste and religion. They don't live their life begging from the government but instead face various difficulties in life. Misusing religion to ban vendors of a particular religion is unconstitutional. This is against their rights," a press statement by the federation said. "The government's silence indicates that their stance is anti-constitutional. Such a move by the government will create a fearful atmosphere among street vendors," the statement added.
In March 2022, Hindutva groups evicted Muslim traders from the Bappanadu temple fair in Mulki in Dakshina Kannada district as part of a similar campaign targeting temple fairs across coastal Karnataka.
The Durgaparameshwari temple in Bappanadu has a syncretic history which spans over 800 years. A sign installed in the temple premises describes it as a “modern day testimony to communal harmony.” The sign further reads, “The temple, said to be built by a Muslim merchant, is today known for the rare practice of allowing Muslims to accept the prasada (blessings of the deity).” Similarly, Muslim traders who took part in large numbers at the Kaup Maariamma festival were also barred this year.