Indian Muslim Shopkeepers Banned From Selling At Hindu Festival

Muslims are banned from setting up temporary shops during a biennial Hindu festival. Organizers of the Kote Marikamba Jatra, a celebration held every two years in Shivamogga, Karnataka, have blocked Muslim vendors from setting up stalls.

Kote Marikamba Jatra is a fair festival held every other year in February or March. The center of the festivities is the Marikamba Temple, a temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Marikamba Devi.

According to the organizers, extremist ring-wing Hindutva groups pressured them into making the decision.

According to The Hindu, local leaders of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bajrang Dal, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad pressured organizers.

Organizers of an annual festival also banned Muslims from opening, selling, and doing business. The Suggi Mari Pooja, a yearly festival, banned Muslims because they protested against the Karnataka High Court's ruling on the hijab ban.

Chikkanna, a shopkeeper designated by the Kote Marikamba Jatra's organizers to manage the shops and collect fees, said he is upset with the decision. He already paid his shop's rent and accepted payment for the rent from Muslim business owners.

On March 17, Hindutva activists approached and barred them when they tried setting up shops.

In an interview with The Hind, S.K. Mariyappa committee president explained that they "had never taken a stand against any particular religion all these years." "But, some people launched a campaign on social media platforms against allowing Muslim shopkeepers," he added.

On March 19, the organizers met with the leaders of the Hindutva groups to discuss the situation. According to Mariyappa, they only have three days to negotiate with the Hindutva group, forcing them to compromise.

"We agreed to their demand in the interest of smooth conduct of the festival," Mariyappa said.

Channabasappa, leader of the BJP Shivamogga, said the response from the Muslim community for the murder of a Hindutva activist justified their action.

"Why should they take part in our (Hindu) event when they do not condemn the murder of our activist," Channabasappa said.

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