Communal violence and abuse inflicted by Hindutva groups is on the rise in Karnataka. In a span of two months the state has witnessed the brutal decapitation of Arbaz Mullah in Belagavi, the assault on an Urdu journalist covering temple demolition in Nanjangud and vandalization of a Muslim-owned mutton shop, among many others.
The assailants’ reasons for the assaults and mistreatment range from spotting an interaction between two people of different faiths to opening of a meat shop when a temple festival is underway.
As these occurrences increase in number, The Quint has compiled a list of the 10 recent events of communal violence and disharmony committed by Hindutva outfits in Karnataka.
Do Assailants Enjoy Impunity?
The alleged perpetrators from the saffron brigade seem to be enjoying protection from members of the government. When a viral video, from Bengaluru, of two Muslim men assaulting a Hindu man for riding with his Muslim colleague reached Basavaraj Bommai, chief minister of Karnataka, he declared that his “government deals with such incidents with an iron hand.” But on the other hand, while speaking about the incident where Hindutva extremists ambushed a car in Moodbidri, near Mangaluru, and allegedly threatened to burn the passengers for travelling with a Muslim driver, the CM said that this was a “social issue and we needed morality in society.”
“Peace in society and relationships are dependent on morality. When there is no morality there will be action and reaction. There is a responsibility on everyone and not just one section of society,” he said. In fact, the Hindutva groups in the Moodbidri case were left on bail on the same evening and escorted out of prison by Umanath Kotian, the BJP MLA from Moodbidri.
Here's a list of incidents that have taken a communal turn in Karnataka.
Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad Members Force Entry Into Church, Sing Bhajans
Members of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) were protesting ‘forced religious conversions’ when they sat down and sung Hindu bhajans in Bairidevarkoppa Church in Hubli, Karnataka. The incident took place on Sunday, 17 October, around 11 am.
The men allegedly forced their way into the church and repeated the chant “Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram”. Some people of the church, including the pastor, were allegedly attacked and admitted to a hospital with minor injuries.
Muslim Couple’s Meat Shop Vandalised by Hindutva Outfit
A meat shop owned and operated by a Muslim couple was allegedly vandalised by a Hindutva group on the outskirts of Belagavi town, Karnataka, on 8 October. The right-wing group (name unknown so far) also asked the couple to move away from the town in a threatening manner.
The outfit had demanded the closure of all meat-selling stores due to a temple inauguration. The Indian Express reported that Afsana Hasan Sab Khureshi, the owner, had adhered to the timing of the closure and had sent two of her employees to clean the shop later in the afternoon.
“That is when some of them attacked the workers, assaulted them, and vandalised the shop. When my husband and I went there after getting to know about this, they threatened us that they would not allow us to live in the town and tried to extort money from us,” she was quoted saying.
Two Muslim Youths Beaten for Wearing Skull Caps
A 14-year-old Muslim boy was attacked by 15 people in Ilkal town of Bagalkote district, Karnataka, for wearing a skull cap while attending private tuition classes.
The tutor had allegedly provoked the rest of the Hindu students by speaking something against the Muslim child. When other Muslim classmates tried to help, they were beaten along with him. The victims have also alleged that the attackers threatened to stab them if they complained to the police or any other authority.
Hindutva Organisations Threaten Mangaluru’s St. Aloysius College Over Stan Swamy Memorial
Reckoned to be a joint statement by ABVP, VHP, and Bajrang Dal members, St. Aloysius College in Mangaluru, Karnataka, was threatened that any ‘untoward incident’ may take place if the institution named a park in their campus after the late Jesuit priest and tribal activist Stan Swamy.
It was an open threat issued in the early days of October and after that, the college has called off the inauguration ceremony for the park until further notice.
Hindu Jagarana Vedike Men Attack Woman and Her Male Colleagues
In Puttur, Karnataka, a woman and two of her male colleagues were attacked by two members of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike for interacting as one of them belonged to a different faith.
Rajeshwari S had travelled to Puttur to release her car from a local court and had brought two of her work mates – Shiva and Mohammed Arafat, along. According to a report in The Indian Express, the trio was attacked on 20 September. Abuses were hurled at the woman and Shiva was assaulted for speaking with a Muslim.
The attackers also took photographs and videos of the group before the local police arrived at the spot.
Mangaluru Students Travelling Together Attacked by Bajrang Dal
Six friends studying at a private medical college, belonging to different religious backgrounds, had visited Malpe Beach before they were waylaid by Bajrang Dal members at a toll plaza at Surathkal, near Mangaluru, Karnataka.
The Hindutva group allegedly heckled and interrogated the girls in the car about journeying with boys of different faiths. This is believed to have happened a few days before September 28, when the video of the same was being actively shared.
Journalist Attacked in Mysuru District
Mohammed Safdar Kaiser, a journalist working with an Urdu daily, was assaulted on 16 September while reporting a protest against the recent demolition of a temple in Nanjangud, Mysuru, Karnataka.
He was recording the speech of Hindu Jagarana Vedike leader, Jagadish Karanth, at the protest site when the other participants allegedly asked him to delete the video and assaulted him.
Bajrang Dal 'Police' Hindu Man and Woman with Muslim Friend
A group of three classmates was talking to each other in Kadri, Mangaluru, Karnataka, when two men on a bike, from Bajrang Dal, accosted them and questioned the Muslim man for talking to a Hindu girl.
They also allegedly manhandled him, abused him, and threatened him with his life. This is reported to have happened in early October this year.
Muslim Man Heckled by Bajrang Dal for Travelling with a Hindu Woman
As per a report by Times Now, a Muslim man’s car was followed, targeted, and hounded by Bajrang Dal members for travelling with Hindu women in the vehicle.
The incident took place on the outskirts of Moodbidri on 9 October. The women were allegedly chastised and threatened for travelling in a Muslim man’s car. Around six to eight people are said to have intercepted the car and abused its driver and passengers. The accused were arrested but later released on interim bail while being escorted by the local BJP MLA.
Arbaaz Mullah’s Gruesome Murder
24-year-old Arbaaz Mullah was killed in Karnataka’s Belagavi district for being in a relationship with a Hindu woman.
His beheaded and mutilated body was discovered on Tuesday, 28 September, on the railway tracks. He is alleged to have been murdered by members of Sri Ram Sene Hindustan who were reportedly paid to do so by the woman's parents.