'Muslims Are Not of Another Nationality': BJP Member Anguished Over Karnataka Ban on Vendors

© Photo : ANIKarnataka lifted clamped on markets and were seen brimming with people
Karnataka lifted clamped on markets and were seen brimming with people - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.03.2022
Last week, several Hindu groups banned Muslim vendors from setting up their makeshift shops during the annual Hindu festival "Kote Marikamba Jatra" in the Indian state of Karnataka.
A.H. Vishwanath, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician in Karnataka, has questioned his own government's silence on Hindu groups calling to ban Muslim vendors from fairs organised during temple festivals.
"The government should break its silence and take action against temple authorities, otherwise, people will act", Vishwanath was cited as saying by the Indian media on Monday.
Muslim traders in the Shivamogga district were not allowed to set up makeshift shops during the five-day "Kote Marikamba Jatra" festival after local BJP politicians and activists from Hindu groups - Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad - threatened the organisers. They demanded that only Hindu traders be allowed to do business on temple premises.
According to media reports, Muslims and Christians generally used to provide "harake", an offering to a deity for the fulfillment of their wishes. They also set up stalls on this festive occasion.
Now, the calls to ban Muslim vendors have been extended to temple festivals in other parts of the state.
Vishwanath says that Muslims living in India are Indians and not people of some other nationality, and the state has responsibilities before them.

"Our state is moving in the wrong direction. How are those Muslims who sell flowers, fruits, and puja material near temples going to earn their livelihood? It amounts to untouchability", Vishwanath, the nominated member of the Legislative Council, said, referring to the practice of ostracising a group of people regarded as "untouchables".

"How many Indians are there in England? How many Indians are there around the world? How many Indians are working in Muslim countries? If these countries decide to act against us, where will all this end up?", Vishwanath, who is also a Kannada writer, novelist, and Dalit leader, stressed.
Vishwanath joined the BJP in 2019. He used to be a member of an opposition party, Congress, and was state president of the Janata Dal (Secular) party. Although Vishwanath lost by-polls after switching parties, he was nominated to the legislative council by the BJP.
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