Karnataka

Muslim shopkeeper on Chennakeshava temple premises in Karnataka told to shut shop

The shop on the premises of Chennakeshava temple in Belur, in Hassan district of Karnataka, that was closed after being served a notice by the temple administration.

The shop on the premises of Chennakeshava temple in Belur, in Hassan district of Karnataka, that was closed after being served a notice by the temple administration. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

For 72-year-old Noor Jahan, the last week has been tough. Following a notice from the administration of the historic Chennakeshava temple in Belur, she had to close her shop in the temple premises on March 28. Since then, her family has lost its only source of income.

As activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal in Belur urged the temple administration to evict non-Hindu shopkeepers from the temple premises, the administration issued a notice and ensured that the shop was closed.

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The issue started with activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal demanding a ban on Muslim shopkeepers during Hindu festivals. The Karnataka Government defended this demand by citing rule 31 (12) of the Religious Endowment Act, 2002. The rule states that shops, buildings, and vacant sites located near temples should not be auctioned to non-Hindus.

Noor Jahan’s family had set up a shop selling toys, bangles, idols and other items around 50 years ago. Her husband Mehaboob Sharief looked after the shop until 2008 when he passed away. Later, her son Rehman Sharief took the responsibility. For the last six years, Noor Jahan is handling the business as her son left their home. She had been taking care of her daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, though the contract agreement of the shop continues to be in the name of her son.

The contract was renewed in 2018, and the family paid the rent regularly. “We have been paying a monthly rent of ₹7,351 to the temple administration. As per the contract agreement, we still have one year to either terminate or renew the agreement,” Noor Jahan said.

Vidyullatha, Executive Officer of the temple, maintained that she had to act as per the rule. “We issued a notice asking the shopkeeper to close the shop, as per the rule. The shopkeeper has complied. Further, the issue has been brought to the notice of the Commissioner of Endowment,” she said.

Others worried about livelihood

Pro-Hindutva activists had urged the administration to remove all non-Hindu traders from the temple premises. Besides shopkeepers, there were a few Muslim musicians, who used to play music and also sell music instruments. All of them are worried about losing their livelihood.

Imam Sab, who plays music, recently told mediapersons that he had been entertaining tourists visiting the temple for over 50 years. If asked to leave the place, in addition to losing his livelihood, he would be hurt, he told mediapersons.

The administration has not served a notice to them so far. The Executive Officer said, “We have not issued notices to those whom we had not allotted space on lease. They continue with their activity,” she said.


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Printable version | Apr 7, 2022 9:18:55 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/muslim-shopkeeper-in-chennakeshava-temple-premises-in-karnataka-told-to-shut-shop/article65295965.ece