Karnataka C.M. issues stern warning against attacks on Muslims

Published : April 08, 2020 15:10 IST

In Belagavi, Karnataka, an officer in a quarantine facility collects details of preachers from Indonesia who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz. Photo: Handout

Responding to the spate of attacks on Muslims in Karnataka, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa issued a stern warning on Monday in an interview to a Kannada news channel. “The entire Muslim community cannot be held responsible for an isolated incident that happens somewhere,” he said. “I’ve given strict orders that action must be taken against the people responsible for violence against Muslims,” Yediyurappa added. There have been at least three reported and verified incidents of violence against Muslims in Karnataka so far.

On Monday, Zareen Taj, who is an activist of Swaraj Abhiyan, was attacked when she was distributing food packets along with her family members in Dasarahalli in Bengaluru. In statements to mediapersons, Taj alleged that members of Hindu right-wing organisations prevented them from carrying out their activities. “A leader said that they will not allow us to distribute ration till the Health Department checked and cleared it as safe, and they alleged that we were spreading the virus deliberately,” she said. With the Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi, where members of the Tabligh Jamaat congregated, being identified as a cluster of COVID-19 cases and with a section of the media relentlessly highlighting this from a religious angle, the prejudice against Muslims has increased tremendously. Added to this are a number of fake videos circulating on social media that directly hold Muslims for spreading the dreaded novel cornonavirus.

In Bedakihaala village in Belagavi district in north Karnataka, a Muslim man who was cleaning a mosque was attacked by a group of men who targeted him because he was in the mosque. According to the man who was attacked, he was an employee of the mosque and was only cleaning and was not offering prayers. Similarly, in another incident in Bagalkot district, three Muslim men were not allowed into a village.

In south Karnataka, in a village in Mandya district, farmers were washing currency notes that they had received from Muslims because they believed that the notes were infected with the coronavirus. In Dakshina Kannada district, notices have come up at the entrances to several villages preventing the entry of Muslims.

While the Chief Minister’s statements have been welcomed by leaders of the Muslim community and by politicians across parties, it has caused dismay among the hardcore section of BJP supporters in Karnataka. They have accused Yediyurappa of “Muslim appeasement”.

Shobha Karandlaje, BJP MP from Udupi-Chikkamagaluru and a close aide of Yediyurappa, had stated that Muslims were indulging in "Corona jihad" and alleged that men who had returned from the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi were misbehaving with hospital staff while in quarantine in Belagavi. This statement was debunked by the director of the hospital. Yediyurappa’s political secretary and party MLA, M.P. Renukacharya, and the BJP MLA from Vijayapura city, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, were among the others who made distasteful comments against the Muslim community.

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