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B Upendran | HENB | Shivamogga | March 20, 2022:: Coming under pressure from Hindutva groups, the organizing committee of the historic Kote Marikamba Jatre in Shivamogga in Karnataka has favoured only Hindu shopkeepers during the five-day festival beginning on and from March 22.
Leaders of the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and BJP demanded that no Muslim be allowed to do business during the festival as they did not condemn the brutal murder of Hindu activist Harsha by some ‘Jihadi elements’. This forced the festival committee to allot the tender to a Hindutva group.
Harsha Nagaraj alias Harsha Hindu was murdered in Shivamogga on February 20 this year by a gang of armed Muslim men created a sharp divide between the Hindu-Muslims in Karnataka. Instead of condemning the brutal killing of Harsha, various Muslim groups spitted venom against Hindus in the communal line and pelted stones/bricks even in the funeral procession of Harsha very unfortunately.
Harsha was a popular Hindutva face in his district and connected with various activities related to Cow Protection, Saving Hindu Girls from Love Jihad Trap and many Hindu festivals including Kote Marikamba Jatre.
Kote Marikamba Jatre, held once in two years, attracts lakhs of people from neighbouring cities and districts. The last time it was held was in February 2020. People from all castes take part in the event. According to the residents, Muslims and Christians also offer harake, an offering to the deity for fulfillment of a wish.
The committee had allotted the tender of managing shops and collect fees from each shopkeeper to one Chikkanna. He had deposited ₹9.1 lakh to the Jatre (fair/festival) committee. As had been the practice all these years, he had allotted shops to Muslim traders too. But, when they went to put up stalls on March 17 night, a few Hindutva activists picked up an argument, ‘Whether they (Muslim traders) condemn the murder of Harsha or not’. As the Muslim traders tried to depict Harsha murder as a ‘political thing’ and did not condemn Harsha’s murder, the irritated Hindu activists asked them not to set up shops at the jatre (fair).
Chikkanna, who was upset with the development, cancelled his tender and demanded return of his money from the committee.
On March 19, the committee held a meeting with representatives of Hindutva groups. It was resolved to give the tender to Hindutva groups for allotment of shops as per their wish.
Talking to HENB, a senior VHP leader of Karnataka opined, “Hindus are all embracing. But adopting the communal line even through murder of Hindus, hardcore Muslim elements are going against majority people as an increasing trend in Karnataka and entire South India. General Muslims are not condemning it, rather their silent support is unfortunately indicative. South has been turned as new bastion of ‘Home grown Jihad’. In this situation, Hindus must keep themselves at a safe distance”.
__Inputs from Agencies.