The gradual build-up of the communal controversy

Published - April 10, 2022 01:09 am IST

Here is the list of incidents in Karnataka and how they gradually snowballed into a communal controversy.

‘Action-reaction’ comment by CM

In October, 2021, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai defended moral policing incidents against interfaith couples in Mangaluru stating that action always elicits a “reaction.” 

Stand-up comedy shows cancelled

Stand-up comedy shows of Munawar Faruiqui and Kunal Kamra, both critical of the ruling establishment, were cancelled in Bengaluru. Police “advised” organisers to cancel after Hindutva groups threatened protests. 

Anti-Conversion Bill and attacks on Christians 

As many as 39 attacks on Christians by vigilante Hindutva groups alleging forced conversions in the second half of 2021 were recorded by PUCL. The Legislative Committee on Backward Classes and Minority Welfare ordered a survey of all churches in the State and whether they are carrying out “forced” conversions, but later denied it.  On December 23, 2021, Karnataka assembly passed the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, modelled on laws enacted by BJP Governments in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and other states. 

Autonomy to Hindu temples 

On December 29, 2021, the CM announced that the Government will give autonomy for Hindu temples, a long-standing demand by Hindutva groups. The proposal was reiterated in the State Budget. 

Hijab controversy

Six girls in an Udupi government college, who insisted on wearing hijab to classrooms, were denied entry. As students began protest, it was countered by Hindu students sporting saffron shawls. Colleges were closed for over a week after tension escalated. Similar incidents were reported from other parts of the State. Matter reached the Karnataka High Court which ruled in favour of the Government’s rule on uniform. Several Muslim girls boycotted classes and exams refusing to remove hijab.

Harsha Murder case 

On February 20, 2022, a rowdy-sheeter and Bajarang Dal worker Harsha was murdered in Shivamogga by a gang of rowdy-sheeters, who were Muslims. The murder took a communal turn. Senior Minister K.S. Eshwarappa and Shivamogga MP B.Y. Raghavendra led Harsha’s funeral procession, leaving violence in its wake. The State Government gave his family a compensation of ₹25 lakh. Police invoked Unlawful Activities (Prevention) act, 1967, and the case was handed over to National Investigation Agency.

Ban on Muslim traders at temple fairs

In March last week, Muslim traders were banned from temple fairs in Udupi, Mangaluru and Shivamogga to begin with and it soon spread to many parts of the State. The Law Minister defended the move in the Assembly citing a rule from 2002. Lawyers and the opposition have argued that the rule was misrepresented. 


The State Government has said it is considering introducing Bhagavad Gita in school curriculum, on the lines of Gujarat. The textbook review committee has recommended scaling down of the lesson on Mysuru king Tipu Sultan by removing his title “Tiger of Mysuru” and a few other parts. 

Campaign against halal meat

Hindutva groups campaigned for Hindus to not buy halal meat, an Islamic way to cut meat and championed jhatka cut, rebranded as “Hindavi” cut. Many BJP leaders like C.T. Ravi and Shashikala Jolle supported the campaign. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the Government will examine the matter. 

Ban on loudspeakers at mosques

As Ramzan began, Hindutva groups demanded all loudspeakers from mosques be removed. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said there was already a High Court order on the issue and it will be implemented strictly.

Economic boycott of Muslims

Hindutva groups have now moved on to campaigns calling for Hindus not to buy mangoes and other fruits from Muslims, not to use cabs driven by Muslims and that temples should not install idols sculpted by Muslims.

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