Bengaluru: One of the most progressive states in the country is at the crossroads. A communal agenda is being played out by political parties fuelling social unrest and showing no signs of ending.
The divisive politics has affected normal life in the state making it inevitable for the common people to look to the religious leaders to come together to establish peace and harmony.
Activist and political analyst Basavaraj Sulibhavi says that the coming together of various religious heads and institutions is the need of the hour. “Christians protest when they are affected. The attacks on Muslims on the charge of ‘Gauhatya’ will not even be noticed by other communities.”
The religious institutions are more focused on the upliftment of castes. Politics is playing its part. The majority of the communities, Lingayat, Kuruba, Vokkaliga, Valmiki have systematically developed their own religious identities which can’t come under typical Hindutva ideologies, he says.
Vaidik forces are empowered and they are powerful. Though there are attempts to bring together all religious heads, it is not being done on a large scale. It is time for all religious heads to come together and to protest for those targeted, Sulibhavi says.
Karnataka has always been seen as a land of multiple identities. There is no room here for one culture. There are religions other than ‘Hindu’ in Karnataka. There is a heritage of ‘Avaidic’ (religious practices not prescribed by vedas) culture, he says.
Santa Shishunala Sharif, who was a Muslim, went on to win the hearts of all sections of society here in the 18th century. He fulfilled his dream to unite Hinduism and Islam. Even today, lakhs of Hindus and Muslims in Karnataka revere him and visit his shrine.
His famous compositions are sung even today by both Muslims and Hindus. His influence can be seen in north Karnataka where there is peace and harmony between Muslims and Hindus who live in adjoining houses and have led their lives without conflict for centuries.
In Karnataka, Muharram is observed by Hindus in villages where there are no Muslims. The historical Belur Chennakeshava temple procession begins only after the recital of verses from the Quran by imams. Bhatkal, a coastal town, is the only place where Hindus can get loans without interest from Muslim Ulema.
History tells us that when the British conspired to stop the Rath Yatra, which is one of the largest in south India, the local Muslim traders came forward to pay the surety and ensure that the Rath Yatra goes on.
Even in the present times, it is a tradition that a delegation of Hindu priests will go to the house of Muslim merchants before the commencement of the Rath Yatra. The Bengaluru Karaga procession stops near a dargah.
All the high traditions of Karnataka are practiced even today amid the hijab row, calls for boycott of Muslim traders, murder of Hindu activists, revenge killings.
This is the time that the people of this country should come forward and stop the communal divide that is reaching an extreme point, says Syed Ghouse Mohiyuddin Shakhadri of Bababudangiri shrine. “We Muslims are branded as not being Indians and anti-nationals. How can anyone try to tell a Muslim, who is born, brought up and buried here, that he does not belong here?” he questions.
“There will be Muslim genocide in India like it was carried out in Cambodia, Burma, China and the former Yugoslavia. Nigeria has been divided between its Muslim and Christian populations. Our country is headed towards civil war, going by recent developments,” Shakhadri says.
During the pre-independence period, south India was considered a relatively a safe place when communal clashes took place in north India.
“Now Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar has a Canadian passport, Alia Bhatt has a British passport. Who are left on the ground are the poor and the middle class of both communities. If people fail to come and fight and defend the plurality and values of the Constitution, I see no hope,” Shakhadri maintains.