Minor clashes broke out between a section of Lingayats and Veerashaivas in Kalburgi on Monday. This was a direct fallout of the Karnataka governmentâ€™s decision to seek central government's nod for giving Lingayats (including Veerashaivas who follow Basavanna) separate religion status.
According to TV reports, the Veerashaivas also burnt posters of CM Siddaramaiah.
However, the situation was brought under control with police detaining both the sections and taking them to the Station Bazar Police Station in the district.
JP Mahila Morcha in Kalaburgi and some Veerashaiva groups marched to the Sardar Vallabhai Patel road in the town. BJP Mahila Morcha leader Divya H and Veerashaiva leader MS Patil have filed case of assault and theft against Lingayat protesters. Meanwhile, Lingayat protesters filed case against the Veerashaivas.
Ravindra Shahabadi, President of Basava Tatva, Kalaburgi district said, "They took out slippers when we went there (SVP Circle). They insulted us in public and threatened to beat us with the slippers. We were only there for a show of victory for our cause. We did not intend to fight with anyoneâ€ť.
The contentious decision came after much deliberation by the state government and also following a mini-feud within the state cabinet.
While Water Resources Minister MB Patil and Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddi â€“ both Lingayats - had argued in favour of going ahead with the Justice Nagamohan Das Committee report, Municipal Administration Minister Eshwar Khandre and Horticulture Minister SS Mallikarjun, both Veerashaivas opposed the move.
The state government appointed expert committee, headed by Justice Nagamohan Das, had recommended that separate religion tag can be sought for both Lingayats and Lingayat-Veerashaivas (Veerashaivas who follow Basavanna) as they are distinct from Hindu religions.
The move has been slammed by the BJP as they claim it is an example of divisive politics.
"The BJP believes that Veerashaivas and Lingayats should come together in making the final decision. It does not believe in divisiveness within the community. For us, Veerashaivas and Lingayats are one and the same and they should come together and take a call. It is not for Siddaramaiah to take the decision," BJP leader Malavika Avinash told TNM.
"There is a lot of conversation and dialogue required between the community members before a final call is taken by the government. The govt wants to fast-track a decision that affects 17% of the population. It is a matter of religion and people's beliefs," she added.
Meanwhile, Water Resources Minister MB Patil, himself a Lingayat, who had been pressing for the move said, â€śOur movement asking for separate religion status for Lingayats has succeeded. A proposal will be sent to the Central government on behalf of Lingayats and followers of Basavanna and those who took part in the movement. We thank the Chief Minister and the entire cabinet for hearing our voice.â€ť
Lingayats are traditionally considered to be a major component of the BJPâ€™s vote bank across the state, especially places in north Karnataka, bordering Maharashtra. Political analysts and the opposition had accused the Congress of playing up the issue for electoral gains.