Muslim Vendors Banned In K’taka’s Hosa Margudi Temple Fair, State Promises Action

Udupi: It is said that at lord’s home, there is no discrimination. But seems like humans are creating discrimination there too. The traditional fair at the Hosa Margudi temple in Udupi along Karnataka’s coast never discriminates between who sets up stalls – Hindu or Muslim. Every year more than 100 Muslim vendors set up stalls along with the Hindu vendors in the fair. But this time, Muslim vendors have been prohibited from putting up stalls.

“We went and met the temple committee members,” said Mohammad Arif, General Secretary of the Street Vendors Association in Udupi. “But they told us that they would auction the slots only for Hindus. We had to agree. They for sure are under pressure,” he added.

The temple officials have admitted that they were pressured by right wing organizations.

“Yes, we had the pressure from right wing organisations… after discussions, we decided to ban,” said Prashanth Shetty, Executive Officer, Hosa Marigudi Temple.

The Endowments Act states that the sites of the temples cannot be lended to non-Hindus. But since many years Hindus and Muslims have participated in the Hosa Marigudi temple very fair peacefully. 

At the moment the reason of right wing groups pressurizing temple officials, and banning Muslim vendors from the fest is unclear. One reason, the locals say, could be the hijab issue.

“We all called for a bandh last week in support of those demanding hijab and against the verdict… the issue backfired,” Mr Arif said to media.

Hindu stall owners say they are upset that Muslims have been banned from conducting business.

“We all did business together. But because they protested, they have been banned,” said Ram Sait, who has a stall of snacks.

Devaraj, who sells articles for puja, said, “I am feeling bad that two communities have been divided. Whether we are Hindu or Muslim, we are Indian citizens. A Hindu or a Muslim should understand this”.

The state government has said that an action will be taken after the matter was flagged in the state assembly. Deputy leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly and Congress leader U T Khadar, said Muslims are not being allowed to put up stalls not just at temple fairs but also on the streets.

Law Minister JC Madhuswamy has said that the government does not encourage the ban.

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