Pressure from Hindutva outfits scuttles event at Kulkunda

Bowing to pressure from the Bajrang Dal, the Subrahmanya Gram Panchayat in Dakshina Kannada has decided not to hold the historic cattle fair at Kulkunda, near the renowned Kukke Subrahmanya temple, this year.

Instead, the fair, scheduled to begin on November 28, may be reduced to a gou puja (cow worship) ritual.

The fair, which sees 2,000 to 3,000 head of cattle (down from 50,000 during its heyday), has traditionally been a meeting point for farmers from Hassan, north Karnataka and Kasaragod to trade in cattle.

The Bajrang Dal has alleged that most of the cattle end up in slaughterhouses in Kasaragod.

Panchayat member Shivaram Rai claimed that activists tried to attack him and others last November on this issue. Cases were registered against two Bajrang Dal activists. Later, the activists too lodged complaints against panchayat members.

Bajrang Dal leader Sharan Pumpwell claimed that the cattle fair benefited Kerala-based slaughterhouses and it had to stop. He said that only exhibition of cattle should be allowed. Unable to withstand the pressure, the panchayat recently passed a resolution stating that it would not hold the fair, citing lack of security and hostile actions of “vested interests”.

The panchayat has written to the Deputy Commissioner to organise the fair through a “relevant department” of the government.

Explaining the decision to not hold the cattle fair, Mr. Rai said Hindutva organisations had rendered it impossible.

‘Vote-bank politics’

Mr. Rai said the intervention by Hindutva activists was nothing but “vote-bank politics by the ruling BJP”.

Most members in the Subrahmanya panchayat are affiliated to the Congress.

The panchayat decision has had its repercussions. The Malekudiya tribal people have threatened not to prepare the Subrahmanya temple chariot unless the cattle fair is held. They pointed out that traditionally, the temple’s annual festival cannot begin until the fair begins.

Overriding objections, the temple, through a “thamboolaprashne” (divine intercession), has decided to offer gou puja at Kulkunda before starting the temple festival.

“What is the use of organising cow worship? The cattle fair should help farmers,” said Mr. Rai.

“No animal has gone to any slaughterhouse from here. The fair is being stopped because of Hindutva organisations,” said A.V. Nagesh, a Malekudiya tribal leader.