Bengaluru: After the infamous confrontation over Muslim students wearing hijabs on campus, Karnataka seems to be simmering once again over halal meat issue. Calling ‘against Muslim merchants in temple fairs’, certain right wing groups in Karnataka are now demanding a ban on halal meat products in the state.
As the debate spurs on with various leaders taking a stake in the issue, the state chief of the BJP on Friday hinted at a ‘legal solution’ to calm waters. The matter has now also reached the High Court with a plea against any possible ban and ‘provocative’ statements by leaders.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had earlier said the state government would spell out its stand after studying the issue.
Amid a social media campaign, and physical protests to boycott purchase of meat from traders selling halal meat in the state, the Hindu Jagruthi Samithi, Srirama Sene, Bajarang Dal and other right wing groups have called for removal of halal certification from the sign boards of meat selling shops.
They have also urged Hindus not to buy meat which is halal cut. Instead they have advised Hindus to buy meat which is cut as per the purported “Hindu traditional method” called ‘Jhatka’.
As the issue hots up with various protests planned for and against the demand, News18 takes a look into what the controversy is about.
Why are Right Wing Bodies Against Halal Meat?
Hindu Janajagrithi Samithi, a right-wing organisation in Karnataka, had earlier said they were starting a campaign for a Halal boycott as under the practice meat is “culled under Islamic practices and cannot be offered to Hindu gods”.
“During Ugadi (considered the New Year for Kannadigas), there are a lot of purchases of meat, and we are starting a campaign against Halal meat. As per Islam, Halal meat is first offered to Allah, and the same cannot be offered to Hindu gods,” Mohan Gowda, the Samithi spokesperson, had told the Hindustan Times.
There have also been claims of the money spent on halal meat being used for ‘wrong reasons’ and an ‘economic jihad’ behind the pratice. Pramod Muthalik, Founder of Sriram Sene had claimed, “The money given for halal products is used for anti-national activities. The money collected here will be used to bring out jailed criminals of terrorist organisations.”
Meanwhile, Hindu Jagruthi Samithi members have allegedly removed sign boards which said ‘halal cut available’ from three shops in Vijayanagar of Bengaluru. At Nelamangala, in the outskirts of Bengaluru, banners have been put up to eat only at Hindu restaurants.
Endorsing the call, BJP National General Secretary and MLA CT Ravi had said that “if Muslims can give a call saying they will only have to use halal cut meat, what is wrong if others choose not to use the halal cut meat?” The leader said communal harmony was “not one-sided and should come from the other side too”.
“Mandating Halal is economic jihad, it is devised to make Muslims purchase only with traders of their religion and not to transact with others,” Ravi said.
State BJP Chief statement over Halal meat row
Meanwhile, a petitioner has approached the High Court seeking directions to not impose any restrictions on Muslim traders and refrain politicians from giving provocative statements.
Lawyer Rehmatullah Kotwal, who has filed the plea, has pressed for an urgent hearing. However, the High Court has refused to hear the matter urgently, saying it will hear the case as per the list.
And the state BJP chief has hinted at a ‘legal solution’ to the Halal row. “We will give a legal solution to Halal controversy. When Hijab controversy had erupted we had given a legal solution similarly we will do it for this,” Karnataka BJP Chief Naleen Kumar Kateel.
According to experts, while a complete ban on Halal meat is unlikely, the statement could signal a regulation for Halal meat certification.
What CM Basavaraj Bommai said
After Biocon chief Kiran Majumdar Shaw mentioned ‘growing religious divide’ in a tweet, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday said that everyone should show restraint. “We have been living with our beliefs on various issues over the years. Karnataka is known for peace and progress. It is possible to resolve the social issues through peaceful talks. So everyone should behave with restraint and cooperate to maintain peace and order,” Bommai said. The Chief Minister had earlier said the issue would be studied before the government took a stand.
Reacting to the tweet from biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw advocating the need to avoid communal animosity for the development of the State, Bommai said, the school uniform issue has already been resolved.
“I am confident that our CM Bommai will resolve the matter peacefully. I am a proud Kannadiga and don’t want to see these incidents detract from economic progress. All parties need to work towards this,” Kiran Mazumdar Shaw later said.
Earlier, she had tweeted, “Karnataka has always forged inclusive economic development and we must not allow such communal exclusion.” Shaw had urged Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to resolve this growing religious divide in the state. “If IT-BT becomes communal it would destroy our global leadership,” she had warned.
Opposition slams halal row
Former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Thursday had criticised the right-wing activists for seeking ban on Muslim merchants and halal meat, giving a call to farmers in the rural areas of the state “to not encourage the saffron-clad Hindutva activists”. “I will not sit quiet with what is happening in the state,” he said.
Kumaraswamy even stated that if Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has “mardaangi” (manliness), he would not sit quiet, but take action. His statements are likely to create confrontations in the rural areas, especially in south Karnataka where the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) has a strong presence, experts say.
Action intensifies with several protests
As the campaign to boycott halal meat has intensified across Karnataka, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) said on Friday it will stage protests across taluks and district centres in the state. SDPI State President Abdul Majeed said that the state’s ruling BJP is “creating anarchy”, which is why they have called for the protests.
The police have made tight security arrangements to maintain law and order during the demonstrations.
Meanwhile, the campaign to boycott halal meat has spread to the districts of Shivamogga, Ramanagar and Mandya.
In Ramnagar, BJP leaders have allegedly posted videos on social media and appealed to the people against buying halal meat. Bajrang Dal activists in Shivamogga staged protests by visiting hotels and butchers in Bhadravathi town which led to a verbal altercation. A complaint has been lodged against seven activists in the connection.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists have also started distributing pamphlets to buy meat only from Hindu sellers.
In Mysuru district, Jana Jagruthi Samithi has made a submission to district authorities to ban halal products.
Hindu activist Prashant Sambaragi has written to the state’s Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Umesh Katti to give directions to online shopping portals and websites to provide an option to buy non-halal meat.
There is a situation where it is inevitable for everyone to use only halal products, which is a violation of the rights of the majority of people, he had complained.
Meanwhile, a Muslim trader near a temple in the state was given a notice by the temple administration, and asked to vacate the premises within three days.
The Chennakeshava temple administration in Hassan issued a notice to Muslim trader running a stall on temple property asking him to vacate the shop within three days. The trader, who had taken the stall on lease till 2023 has been asked to vacate ‘since he is a non-Hindu’. The administration quoted a 2002 Muzrai law against the decision. The trader had been running a stall at the same place since 1970.