Right-wing protests against halal meat traditionally consumed by Muslims have taken a violent turn in Shivamogga district’s Bhadravati
After the confrontation over Muslim students wearing hijabs on campus, the latest flashpoint in Karnataka seems to be halal meat.
Right-wing protests against halal meat traditionally consumed by Muslims took a violent turn in Shivamogga district’s Bhadravati where five men were arrested for assaulting a man in a chicken meat shop and another at a restaurant.
District police chief B M Lakshmi Prasad said, “According to the complaint, five men went to a meat shop and demanded non-halal meat. When they were not given the meat and the shop was being shut down, they hit a boy on his head. Similarly, another case was registered in connection with the events in Janata Hotel. The group reached the shop and told the owner that they shouldn’t be selling halal meat anymore. A customer had an argument with the group and one person was assaulted. A case has been registered at the Old Town Police Station. In both cases, the same five people were named as accused. All the five have been arrested.”
These aren’t the only cases: right wing groups are reportedly approaching vendors in different parts of the state against the sale of halal items.
Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai has said the state government will look into the ‘halal’ meat issue as “serious objections” have now been raised against it. “The halal issue has just started. We have to study it. It’s a practice that is going on. Now serious objections have been raised about it. I will look into it,” Mr Bommai has told the media.
C T Ravi, national general secretary of the ruling BJP, earlier tweeted, “No more HALAL PRODUCTS for Hindus. Let us fight unitedly against Economic JIHAD !!!”
The issue has snowballed into a political row, with the Opposition saying that the state government is responsible for protecting all communities.
H D Kumaraswamy, leader of the Janata Dal Secular and former chief minister, told reporters, “Those who have called for boycott of halal mutton, what is the response of this government? No specific decision has been taken by this government on such issues. Where will they stand (on such issues) in the future? They have to protect all communities. By protecting one community, they cannot run the government.”
Targeting right-wing outfits, Congress MLA Rizwan Arshad said, “They are filled with poison. They are poisoning this society. It is a free country. If anyone wants to buy halal meat, they will buy it. If he doesn’t want to buy, he won’t. Who are they to tell anybody to buy or not buy or force anybody to sell or not sell. It is these people who are the jihadists. The BJP and Sangh Pariwar and the right wing organisations are the jihadists.”
The issue has also sparked a voice of concern from Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.
Saying that Karnataka has always forged inclusive economic development, she has warned in a Twitter post that such “communal exclusion” would destroy “our global leadership” in the sphere of information technology and biotechnology. Ms Mazumdar-Shaw has appealed to Chief Minister Bommai to resolve this “growing religious divide”.
In a subsequent tweet, the Biocon chief said “vested interests are hijacking the issue” but expressed confidence that the Chief Minister will resolve the matter peacefully.
The hijab and halal issues are taking centre stage as Karnataka approaches the Assembly elections due in a year’s time.