Karnataka: Muslims forced to shut businesses, street vendors’ federation opposes move

In another episode of Muslims being harassed in Karantaka, Hindutva goons in Kodagu district on Friday forced Muslim vendors to shut down fruit and juice stalls set up in the premises of the venue where a state-level agricultural programme was scheduled to take place.

Amidst the controversy of Muslim vendors not being allowed to set up stalls at a temple fair in Udupi, several saffron scarves clad Bajrang Dal goons in Shaniwarpet forced Muslim traders to empty the premises of the venue where a state-level programme related to agriculture and domestic cows was scheduled to take place in Manehalli village.

Karnataka has been witnessing a number of communal episodes beginning in January when the hijab row erupted as saffron-clad Pre-University students protested against the wearing of headscarves by fellow female Muslim students within the premises of their college.

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In the more recent episode, non-Hindu vendors were prohibited from setting up stalls at a local fair, Kote Marikamba Jatra, in the Shivamogga district.

The organizing committee of the festival, which is held once every two years, was forced to allot the tender to a Hindutva group as the leaders of BJP, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad had demanded that no Muslim be allowed to set up shops during the festival.

Following the reports of vendors being denied permission within and outside the premises of the temple, during fairs and annual festivals, street vendors federation, Karnataka Beedi Badhi Vyaapari Sanghatanegala Okkoota urged the state to intervene in the matter.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Okkoota’s state president said that the prohibition of non-Hindu vendors was against the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, and the Karnataka Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Rules, 2019.

The regulations allow vendors to do business by the roadside, fairs, and festivals, both weekly and annually.

Calling the discrimination against vendors based on religious grounds unfortunate, he said that it would result in loss of livelihood to many, which would negatively impact their families.

Another worker’s federation, The Bengaluru Zilla Beedi Vyaparigala Sanghatanegala Okkoota, also took a similar stand over the issue.

The Hindu quoted Vinay Sreenivasa from the Okkoota saying that it was both problematic and disturbing that Muslim vendors were being targeted.

“The State Government which should protect the right to livelihood of all citizens should step in. Instead, the government is being very irresponsible,” Vinay was quoted by The Hindu.

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