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K'taka: Some Bengaluru Temples Hostile to Muslim Vendors, Others Welcome Harmony

At Madiwala, Basavanagudi, and Malleswaram 'Hindu Dharma' is the priority over rights of Muslim vendors.

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Reporter/Producer: Pratiba Raman

Video Editor: Mohd. Irshad Alam & Subroto Adhikari

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It all began at Shivamogga, Karnataka, during the biennial fair of Marikamba temple. Muslims were barred from setting up stalls at the festival after Hindu groups demanded for such a ban.

Soon, other temples too followed suit. The controversy spread across the state, from Dakshina Kannada to Chikmagalur, and other districts.

The state government, led by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, justified the demand by citing rule 31(12) of the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Rules of 2002. The rule, however, states that “no property, including land, building or sites situated near the institution (temple) shall be leased out to non-Hindus.” This was misused to bar all Muslim vendors from near some temples.

The Quint decided to capture the Hindu-Muslim sentiment among vendors outside temples in the state capital – Bengaluru.

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Sisterhood in Koramangala, Demand for Ban in Madiwala

First stop – Koramangala. “Many Muslims have set up shop here. We are all living together here. The temple is close to the Masjid. We are here like family. There is no problem,” said Ajir Abi, a Muslim flower-seller, who has made this place her home for the last ten years. A Hindu bangle vendor said, “In fact, during temple fairs, there are more Muslims who come here. Most of my customers were Muslims during the recent fair. We partake in each other’s festivals and fairs here."

Unlike Koramangala, the relationship between Hindus and Muslims is strained in other parts of the city.

“Be it selling kumkum and turmeric powder considered religious for Hindus, how can Muslims sell them? It is better that Hindus do their business near temples. It’s good for them and us. I condemn Muslim vendors setting up shop here,” said Raja, a trader selling pooja items near a Hanuman temple in Madiwala.

While Madiwala is home to several traders from Tamil Nadu, there aren’t any shop owned by Muslim vendors.

However, there is one woman who has embraced bother the religions here. “My father was a Hindu. He converted to Islam. I was born after his conversion. I married into a Hindu family. My Hindu name is Punidha. My Muslim name is Fathima. To me, both the religions are equal. I am doing business here with no qualms. I want Hinduism and Islam,” said Punidha, who sells banana leaves.

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Hindu Dharma Priority at Basavanagudi and Malleswaram

Basavanagudi’s Bull Temple is home to vendors, who place Hindu dharma as their priority. “They (Muslim vendors) don’t remain casual like us. Let them take care of their dharma. We don’t oppose that. But they shouldn’t interfere with our dharma. We can’t do anything in front of their Dargahs. How can we allow them to set up shops near temples? No wonder these fights have cropped up,” said Rangappa, who sells Ganesha idols outside the Bull Temple.

Enter Malleswaram’s 8th Cross, there are no Muslim vendors near the Kannika Parameshwari Temple. Gopal, a vendor there, said that there is a separate line for the Muslim vendors.

Amidst raging emotions present in the region, harmony seems to be the need of the hour.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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