A steady build-up of communal tension in Dakshina Kannada

While Dakshina Kannada has been in the grip of communal clashes since 1990s, what is alarming is the regularity with which they get aggravated ahead of elections, Assembly as well as Parliament, with political parties attempting to take mileage out of them.

It is also said that clashes between individuals belonging to different communities, personal in nature, tend to take a communal turn at a later stage, ostensibly with the intervention of a few leaders.

Kalladka town in Bantwal taluk has a history of communal clashes since about two decades. While the town has not witnessed major clashes for about two years, an alleged stabbing of a Muslim youth on May 26 this year fuelled large-scale unrest after which the administration had to impose prohibitory orders in the taluk.

The ‘class’ episode

This was followed by another clash between two individuals belonging to different communities on June 13 that further escalated the tension.

At this juncture, a video of district in charge Minister B. Ramanath Rai taking “class” to Superintendent of Police Bhushan Gulabrao Borase on June 18 went viral. Mr. Rai was allegedly asking the Mr. Borase to arrest firebrand RSS leader Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat if he made provocative speeches. While Mr. Rai claimed he was selectively quoted, the video was extensively shared.

Soon after, Ashraf Kalai, an autorickshaw driver and office-bearer of the local Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) unit, was hacked to death on June 21 at Benjanapadavu in Bantwal taluk. A day before, two youths riding a motorcycle had escaped a similar attack at Thumbay near Bantwal. Within three days, the police arrested five persons in the case.

The latest in the series of attacks and counter-attacks was the attack on Sharath Madiwala, a laundry owner and RSS volunteer, who succumbed to injuries on Friday. The procession carrying Sharath’s mortal remains was stoned at B.C. Road on Saturday, further aggravating the situation. As of now, the police claim that the situation is under control.

Under control

Unlike the situation in Bantwal, Ullal Assembly constituency (now named Mangaluru constituency), which also has a sizable minority population, has had a better record of containing communal situation.

This region too has been witnessing stray incidents of stabbing where unknown miscreants riding motorcycles randomly attack innocent civilians, belonging to different communities. This, however, was not allowed to precipitate by the Mangaluru city police.

For instance, while the BJP attempted to take political mileage out of Karthik Raj’s murder in Konaje police limits on October 22, 2016, it turned out to be the alleged handiwork of his sister and her associate, who were arrested on April 29 this year.

Ideological war

Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) State president Muneer Katipalla says communal clashes began haunting the region on a serious scale ever since the Babri Masjid demolition. They aggravate ahead of the polls, he said, stressing the need for leaders and officers to work for communal harmony.

While moral policing dominated the scene ahead of the 2013 Assembly polls, the murder of Bajrang Dal activist Rajesh Poojary dominated the 2014 Lok Sabha polls “with political parties attempting to reap benefits out of them”, Mr. Katipalla told The Hindu.

“The present incidents appear to be similar attempts,” he said.

As Sangh Parivar outfits became strong, fundamentalist forces among Muslims too gained foothold in the region, further escalating tension, Mr. Katipalla said.

Law alone cannot bring peace and harmony, which requires broadminded leaders as well as officers, he said.

Ismail N., principal of Badriya College in Mangaluru, regretted that though the district is known for its high literacy rate, “narrow mindedness prevailing among a few people was now being enforced on the larger masses.”

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 12:30:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/a-steady-build-up-of-communal-tension-in-dakshina-kannada/article19241843.ece

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