Muslims prevented from setting up stalls at Shivamogga festival

It is reported that the committee was forced to allot the tender to a Hindutva group as the leaders of BJP, Bajrang Dal and VHP had demanded that no Muslim be allowed to set up shops.

Shivamogga, the district in Karnataka which has witnessed anti-Muslim atrocities in the last few weeks, is dealing with another instance of Islamophobia. The organizing committee of the Kote Marikamba Jatra (a festival held in Shivamogga) was forced to prevent Muslims from setting up stalls for the festival.

The organising committee for the five-day-festival which begins on March 22 succumbed to the pressure of Hindutva leaders and groups.

It is reported that the committee 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.

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Previously the tender of managing the shops and collecting the fees from the shopkeeper was allotted to a Hindu individual named Chikkanna. He had deposited 9.1 lakh rupees. Like the previous festivals, Muslim traders were allotted shops by Chikkanna this time as well. But, when the Muslim traders were setting up the shops on the night of March 17, Hindutva activists argued with the Muslim traders and demanded that they not set up their shops.

After this development, Chikkanna was upset and he cancelled his tender and demanded the return of his money from the committee.

A meeting was held by the committee on March 19 with the representatives of the Hindutva groups. It was decided that the tender would be given to Hindutva groups for the allotment of the shop.

Talking to The Hindu, SK Mariyappa the president of the committee said, “The committee had never taken a stand against any particular religion all these years. But, some people launched a campaign on social media platforms against allowing Muslim shopkeepers. Only three days are left for the festival to start. We agreed to their demand in the interest of smooth conduct of the festival, which attracts thousands of people,” he remarked.

The Kote Marikamba Jatra is held once every two years. Lakhs of people from neighbouring cities and districts visit the festival. The festival was last held in February 2020. The residents say that Muslims and Christians also offer ‘Harake’, which is an offering made to the deity for fulfilling their wishes.

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