The fallout of the Hijab controversy is threatening to spill beyond schools and colleges of Karnataka as, for the first time, the management committees of Hindu temples invoked a law that bans the non-Muslims from doing business around temple premises and thereby restricted Muslims from participating in the fairs.
After posters in Kannadigga appeared around temple premises on the occasion of 'Kote Marikamba Jatra' (local temple festival) in Shivamooga, announcing "No shops for Muslims," the Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said he has sought reports from police on this, He assured that the government will keep a close watch on law and order situation in the state.
The government also told the State Legislative Assembly that this non-Muslim clause is part of the law.
State’s Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy said the government does not encourage the ban. “Rule 12 of the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act-2002 states that no property, including land, building, or site situated near the premises shall be leased to non-Hindus. Citing these rules, posters, and banners have been put up,” he said.
So far six temples in the past week have issued the ban while posters announcing the ban on Muslims from setting up stalls in the Temple festivals have appeared in Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, and Shivamooga districts.
The five-day festival of 'Kote Marikamba Jatra', where devotees offer prayers to Goddess Marikamba, commenced on March 23 with only Hindus being permitted to set up stalls.
The temple committee said openly they have invoked the law in reaction to the Muslim traders closing their shops against the High Court verdict on upholding the ban on the wearing of hijab at educational institutions.
The statement issued by the Temple Samiti in Shivamooga said it had decided that Muslim shopkeepers will not be allowed to participate in the bidding for stalls, selling, or participating in the religious festivals or programmes under the law.
It said: "Even though this act was in place, we did not implement it but from this year, the Hindu Sanghatan has decided to implement this rule. We have informed the Muslim vendors and shopkeepers, there is no opposition from their side, they have gone their way after the decision was announced.
"The recent Hijab protests is the reason why this decision was taken, our executive officer has decided this based on the rule of the religious act which is in place.
"To preserve the peace of the Hindu community and to make sure the devotees are not affected or bothered during the religious programmes and events, this decision was taken and implemented.
"I am not aware if this rule has been implemented in the other temples, but when we received the circular regarding this matter, we implemented it in our temple which is Hosa Marigudi temple in Kaup.
"This rule is in place for all Muslim shopkeepers and vendors, we did not go and check who protested during the hijab ban or who did not, Muslims in all are not allowed to sell or participate in the programmes, previously about 10% of the shopkeepers would be Muslims but from now on, they are not allowed."
However, Temple Samiti president S K Mariyappa told reporters on Sunday that several members of the Muslim community are taking part in different activities related to the fair, and that the committee does not interfere with the process.
Several posters and leaflets are making rounds on social media from various parts of Karnataka, from Mulki to Udupi district, which read that non-Hindus will not be allowed to take part in the local fair either by setting stalls or selling their products.